Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation
INDIANA UNIVERSITY POETRY SERIES
i In the House and Out samuel yellen
2 The Gypsy Ballads of Garcia Lorca
TRANSLATED BY ROLFE HUMPHRIES
3 Dry Sun, Dry Wind david wagoner
4 Songs for a New America charles g. bell
5 New England Harvest donald c. babcock
6 The Vegetable Kingdom padraic colum
7 Kingdom of Diagonals kenneth slade alling
8 The Reckless Spenders walker gibson
9 Prefabrications Josephine miles
io The Deaths at Paragon, Indiana john woods
i i Delta Return charles g. bell
i 2 Changes of Garments neil weiss
13 New and Selected Poems kenneth fearing
14 An Apology Both Ways richard aldridge
15 Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral
translated by langston hughes
16 A Place to Stand david wagoner
17 Coming of Age /New & Selected Poems
1 8 Po ems / 1930-1960 Josephine miles
by Josephine Miles
Indiana University Press / i960
for Family, for Friends
Acknowledgment is due to The Macmillan Company, New Di-
rections, Rinehart & Company, and Harcourt, Brace & Company
for permission to reprint the poems they have published, and to
the following magazines in which poems from "Neighbors and
Constellations" have appeared: Beloit Poetry Journal, Experiment,
Evergreen Review, Furioso, Hudson Review, Harper's Bazaar,
Kenyon Review, Listen (England), New Yorker, Poetry: A Mag-
azine of Verse, Poetry Northwest, Perspective, Prairie Schooner,
Recurrence, Sewanee Review, Voices, Western Review, Yale
Copyright © i960 by Indiana University Press
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in
any form without the permission of the Indiana University Press.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8916
Manufactured in the United States of America
from TRIAL BALANCES
The Sun Is a Reagent 1 3
Yours Is a Wind 14
Desert 1 5
On Inhabiting an Orange 1 5
Portrait of the Artist 1 6
Physiologus 1 6
from LINES AT INTERSECTION
Seer 2 1
Tehachapi South 2 2
After This, Sea 2 3
Men Friday 24
Upon Twelve 24
Driver Saying 25
For Futures 27
Analysis of Compound 28
Made Shine 29
from POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS
Market Report on Cotton Gray Goods 3 1
Committee Report on Smoke Abatement in
Residential Area 3 2
Government Injunction Restraining Harlem
Cosmetic Co. 3 3
Moonrise in City Park 34
Beach Party Given by T. Shaughnessy for the Sisters 34
Peak Activity in Boardwalk Ham Concession 3 5
Polo Match. Sunday, 2 p.m. 36
Radio Request Program on a Wet Day 3 6
Committee Decision on Pecans for Asylum 3 7
juke Box Serenade 38
Art Gallery Closing Time 3 9
Now That April's There 3 9
The Lighting of the Street Lights 40
The Lighting of a Small Fire in the Grate 40
Moonrise in a Lumber Yard 4 1
Nine O'Clock Show 41
Preliminary to Classroom Lecture 42
Preliminary to Action 42
Purchase of Lodging for the Night 42
Purchase of a Hat to Wear in the Sun 43
Purchase of a Blue, Green, or Orange Ode 44
from LOCAL MEASURES
So Graven 45
Flag Level 47
Still Life 48
In Air 48
Well Made 51
Man of Letters 5 1
Merchant Marine 5 3
The Thoroughgoing 55
The Sympathizers 56
Prediction 6 1
Lucifer Alone 62
What Followed 62
All Hallow 63
Concerto from Above 66
Act V 67
The Disturbed 68
None 7 1
The Day the Winds 77
Barge 8 1
Two Kinds of Trouble (For Michelangelo)
The Halt 91
Dialectic 9 1
Improbable Time 96
Ten Dreamers in a Motel 98
The Plastic Glass 1 o 3
Meeting 1 04
Idea of Joy 105
Matter of Fact no
Selected Essay no
Height 1 1 1
Riddle 1 1 1
Heir 1 1 2
Kind 1 1 2
NEIGHBORS & CONSTELLATIONS
A Foreign Country 1 1 3
The Campaign 1 2 2
Three Stages 128
Personal Appearance 1 2 9
Drift 1 3 1
Confessed 1 3 1
Accident 1 3 1
Tally 1 3 2
Visiting Hour 1 3 3
Mercury 1 3 5
Exterior 1 3 5
Four Songs 137
To Make a Summer 1 40
Brooklyn, Iowa, and West 1 4 ;
To Time 144
The Savages 148
Wings 1 50
Reception 1 5 1
Maxim 1 54
from TRIAL BALANCES
The Sun Is a Reagent
The sun is a reagent, the sun is an accomplice,
The sun is a party of the third part.
How cold ingredients before the sunrise,
How still the seeds at heart!
We have a haystack and a doorstep whitening,
We have a shutter splintering finer,
And surer signs of fruit more warmly brightening
With the sun co-signer.
How quick the compound now that it is daybreak,
How firm the bargain with this light to light it!
Now we have both experiment to make,
And words to write it.
I have a sea to lie on, deep as breathing,
Swept as a wave unbreaking in its rise.
The silver foam of oat seed blown and wreathing
Rides in a smother of waters on my eyes.
Should you come down the green hill behind me,
Searching lightly, walking the hidden ground,
Breath deep under the grass tops you would find me,
Yours Is a Wind
Yours is a wind even the beanfields bend before.
Branches that smell of sky
Lean with a creaking sigh under its lofty blowing,
Under its passing by.
Grass in the marsh bends its lean back to the salt wet,
To the bitter frost.
And the black tossed heads of rushes lifting to the sunlight
Break and are lost.
Stones on the hill shrug up their shoulders stiffened and cold.
You will not be content
With boughs rent out of heaven forever and ever,
With stones bent.
Your wind will come out of the high places and pathways
To the dust's dim core.
Leaf by leaf, silver and small, yours is a wind
The beanfields bend before.
When with the skin you do acknowledge drought,
The dry in the voice, the lightness of feet, the fine
Flake of the heat at every level line;
When with the hand you lean to touch without
Surprise the spine for the leaf, the prickled petal,
The stone scorched in the shine, and the wood brittle;
Then where the pipe drips and the fronds sprout
And the foot-square forest of clover blooms in sand,
You will lean and watch, but never touch with your hand.
On Inhabiting an Orange
All our roads go nowhere.
Maps are curled
To keep the pavement definitely
On the world.
All our footsteps, set to make
Lapse into arcs in deference
All our journeys nearing Space
Skirt it with care,
Shying at the distances
Present in air.
Blithely travel-stained and worn,
Erect and sure,
All our travelers go forth,
Making down the roads of Earth
Portrait of the Artist
Being a paper blown into the street,
Printed upon, read somewhat,
I stir with a delight in sound,
Finding cement a cool resting place.
To the blue shadows of the trees nobody cries,
"Get up out of the street, play on the porch!"
Nobody picks the sunlight off the curb
Fearing to find it broken by rubber tires.
Like these I take comfort in white pavement;
More than these, I can be caught by wind,
Borne down hills, corner round corner, up roofs even,
Torn, torn by the long drag of the streets.
More than these, though torn and eventually lost,
I have a body to be caught by wind,
Curious, nerved, aware of crisp dimension,
On all these streets the truest traveler.
When the mind is dark with the multiple shadows of facts,
There is no heat of the sun can warm the mind.
The facts lie streaked like the trunks of trees at evening,
Without the evening hope that they may find
Absorbent night and blind.
Howsoever sunset and summer bring rest
To the rheumatic by change, and howsoever
Sulphur's good medicine, this can have no cure —
This weight of knowledge dark on the brain is never
To be burnt out like fever,
But slowly, with speech to tell the way and ease it,
Will sink into the blood, and warm, and slowly
Move in the veins, and murmur, and come at length
To the tongue's tip and the finger's tip most lowly
And will belong to the body wholly.
from LINES AT INTERSECTION
Delivers papers to the doors of sleep
Tosses up news upon the shores of sleep
In the day's damp, in the street's swamp wades deep
And is himself the boy drowned, drowned with sleep.
Crosses to the corner with the lamp
Already dark, even asleep the lamp,
Treads in the wet grass, wares, leaps as in swamp
The gutters dark with darkening of the lamp
Hears only the thud and thud against the doors
Of the news falling asleep against the doors,
The slip and drip of mist on the two shores,
Sees without light or sight the coasts of doors.
Sees at a door a light, Herald, Sir?
Wakes to the whistle and light, Herald, Sir?
To the latch lifted and the face's blur
Wakes; wakes coin, day, greeting, Herald, Sir.
I cannot tell you what a bargain this is,
Built at a cost of seven thousand, selling
For seven five, and all utilities
In, and trees.
Landscaped front and back, strings up for lawn,
Tiled, wrought-iron fixtured, entrance hall
With an echo, echo, echo, beamed ceiling,
And a Southern feeling.
Marvellous in this spring month, in this empty field,
Out of already forgotten hammers, hands compressed,
So like a snowdrop sprung, white, delicate, and new,
With a mountain view.
The structure of music as an art behind that morning glory
Behind that oak door is perpetually refounded,
Sets to in the fresher hours toward recognition,
Is this I? and is astounded.
The bar laborious rises above the breadman's whistle,
It is I, it is music written and revealed.
In the half step and broken note, am I wrong? no, it is I
Loud though concealed.
In this eventual song, this etude, this caprice Espagnole
Is not a mountain, not a wind or breath, nor a morning glory or
Yet hear in the way it is piling up it is sometimes I
That the keys are climbing for.
I swear it will win through the kimono sleeves and the street's ply,
By whatever chances music is surprised,
And will set up in the vines, along the wind, sound that is I,
Founded and recognized.
The psychic metaphysician sat tight in the white
Shine of the rocks outside Riverside,
It was like living in a world of mirrors
The left hand rocks and leaves so took the light,
The left of cornflakes in the kitchenette
So took the light.
Is it wind or is it a new year, asked the psychic metaphysician
Resting his hand upon the parlor chair, and the flare
Of answers long lying in that dust dazzled him,
The left hand cups and mirrors so took the light,
It was like living in a world of answers
The hand so took the light.
I shall be prodigal with thine information,
The psychic metaphysician knelt and spelt,
Changing fifty cents to forty on his sign,
It swung against the porch and took the light,
It was like living in a world of sight
The sign so took the light.
Lark hit us in the face with his rising sound.
We were unstruck by wind before and raced
Train, and saw all signs with one eye only,
And were shelled against sky
And all that we went by.
Now lark said something in the field and we heard it,
And it mounted and rode upon our ears as we sped.
And we heard windshield rattle and canvas creak thereafter
And pondered every line
Of hill and sign.
Tehachapi south down with dust in the mouth
And hills that spin under wheels,
Wild lilac gray, and sunflowers sick of the sun,
And the grade run.
Faint in the ears like a shout the shifting of gears
High on the grade behind, and ahead
Easing out on the road that takes again
The smooth speed of the plain.
The earth bent up into folds yellow and spent
Now passes in pale grass
To a new horizon, farther and more neat,
Cut clean with heat.
The round high pipes following low ground,
Lying apart, bear at heart
Water, water, for men's throats. And the breath
Of the town is in the teeth.
After This, Sea
This is as far as the land goes, after this it is sea.
This is where my father stopped, being no sailor,
Being no Beowulf, nor orient spice hungry
Here he let horizons come quietly to rest.
What he fled is past and over,
Raftered roof and quilted cover,
The known street and the known face,
The stale place.
This is as far as the land goes, here we are at length
Facing back on the known street and face, all flight
Spent before our time in building the new towns,
Letting these last horizons come quietly to rest.
We have a special pressing need
We of the outer border breed
To climb these hills we cannot flee
To swim in this sea.
This is as far as the land goes, here the coast ranges
Hard and brown stand down to hold the ocean,
Here the winds are named for saints and blow on leaves
Small, young, yellow, few, but bound to be ancestral.
Nowhere are so still as here
Four horizons, or so clear.
Whatever we make here, whatever find,
We cannot leave behind.
This water is for ships, that they cleave it,
That the grooves leap
Cleanly at the bow and clearly leave it,
As freight is borne upon the face of the deep.
This ground is for feet, that they tread it,
That commerce start
In the dust, and the feet spread it
Counter to counter, paradise to port.
Came ever out of the blue a free faring
Wind upon this strand,
It would start and wonder at the sea bearing
Keel prints, at the heel prints in the sand.
Now has been contrived in the increasing noonday
Some show of order wherein to be at rest,
Some stilling of the need that space be tended
That time be pressed.
Where in our path was the ambitious clutter of morning,
The leaf shadow and stir, the brush and broom,
Now at the base of trees is a clean sunlight,
At the door, room.
We shall sit with minds quiet, with the loftiness, though cooler,
That the sun has for its meridian,
In the fine short space before the roof eastward
Lady hold your horses, sit down in your seat,
Wrap your feet around the leg of the chair,
Even in my heart I can feel your heart beat.
We move, however, on schedule of need
Of the general public, see, standing on the corner there,
Holding hats, lifting canes, cutting down our speed.
Lady calm down, we'll be stopping and starting
On your nerves and my brakes ten corners more,
There'll be plenty feet to watch climbing up and departing.
There is also a good signboard at the Filmart
To look at and keep your mind on when we pass there.
Lady, even in second I can hear your heart.
The hosiery salesman walking up the hill
Holds out for mercy and receives it not,
Perceiving at the top against his will
How flat the blocks ahead are and how hot.
How from porch to porch and hedge to hedge
In neo-Spanish neatness of design
There is a long perspective of arch and edge
Of roof and step and little out of line.
These doors will close to his toe one like the rest,
The cool interiors be black to his sight,
No eager discourse on what silk is best
Will sound in his ears right.
How shall a man proceed among the noises
Of scooters, rakes, and babies on the lawn
When the sober Spanish doors and the cool voices
Reject all small familiars but their own?
I wish we could take a statistic with more grace, beloved,
I wish it would circle out in our minds to the very brim,
And we could be illumined by data one by one, as by candles,
As by the cheerful faces of cherubim.
But see we respond only to archangelic doctrine,
Look up and glow at the actual pronouncement of grace,
Swallow at once all the high powered radiance,
And let the commandments shine upon the face.
This is a tremendous lot of revelation we gather,
Beloved, and beam at it in the proper spirit.
Nevertheless I wish we had one or two facts to go by,
And a less arclighted kingdom to inherit.
Hobbes spoke among the ball cries, telling what
In the sixth inning, the interior beginning
Of voluntary motion.
Bat crack and book debate were underblent,
Though blocked apart,
Moving together from eyes, ears, and other
Organs to the heart.
When the lights come on at five o'clock on the street corners
That is Evolution by the bureau of power,
That is a fine mechanic dealing in futures:
For the sky is wide and warm upon that hour,
But like the eyes that burned once at sea bottom,
Widening in the gloom, prepared for light,
The ornamental standards, the glazed globes softly
Perceive far off how probable is night.
Some of the roofs are of Hopi Indian decision,
They cut square into the sky with plaster,
The tan edge going up two stories past the windows
And turning north and east for straight cement horizon.
Some have old noble English temper peaked,
Alternate red and green shingles but getting the drift,
Gabled to peer out of a possible anciently fallen snow,
And clear superior against gray sky.
All of them look west and take in sunset,
Keep their ferns warm the length of supper,
Sparkle their cups of milk and all accompany
With aerial music that evening sun go down.
Aloof the walnut will not sit and sing,
It is no joyful thing.
Build it a fire and further harvest bring,
It will not lift a wing
But sits in shell and will not sing.
Oyster is so too and will have none of your star,
It slips at bar
It slides for the celebrants of months with r,
Wherein the twig smoke haze, berry, walnut are,
And will not have your star.
You can get mountains to sing harvest home
And cows to come
And the obliging red to ride the wind with some
Festival note, but shell will shelter dumb
The unstarred communicants of harvest home.
The searchlights ask the stars nothing
Among them going,
Tell them nothing, their sign of show
Being for more particular sight below.
Show, show, say they to the sight
Through the lamplight,
Raying cloud, cloud, and cloud to wake and start
The after dinner heart.
There is stir in the driveways and rustle of departing,
With the hearts starting,
And sight can almost see, ear hear, at the lights' core
Gathering, shining, what the lights are searching for.
Analysis of Compound
What would you think to call the texture of water?
Sitting with your feet swinging over it,
High with your hands clinging over it,
What would you say was water?
First black, the blackest ever.
No dark on dark could cover it,
No dark wool, dream, drought cover it.
First black is water.
Then cold, than the sleet colder,
Starting from head to feet the long shiver
Like the long ripple of snow wind down a river,
Then cold is water.
Then wide, with a last horizon but no measure,
So far your eyes must falter and then leave it,
So deep your eyes must see and not believe it.
Then wide is water.
Then wet? That is a different substance altogether.
That for the thirst, cloth, shower to discover.
This untouchable landscape that you lean over,
This black cold wide, is water.
This face had no use for light, took none of it,
Grew cavernous against stars, bore into noon
A dark of midnight by its own resources.
Yet where it lay in sleep, where the pillow held it
With the blind plaster over it and the four walls
Keeping the night carefully, it was undone.
Sixty-watt light, squared to a window frame,
Across a well of air, across wind and window
Leaped and made shine the dark face in its sleep.
What they had at their window was earth's own shadow,
What they had on their garden, bloom's intermission,
Slept in the car the graceful far.
Slept in the breast a city and statewide rest,
Ran at the wrist time strapped and glassed,
They had eyes closed tight in a central standard night.
from POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS
Market Report on Cotton Gray Goods
Cotton gray goods quiet and firmer
Sold in small amounts at steady prices.
Some were unaware at distance from the market
How those bolts reflected prepossessed their cost per head
Raw silk was unchanged and rayon yarns actively
Lapped up demand that firmed to cream just,
Rose with time just topping at the market,
A calm waylaying and surrendering, a portion sped
Wool goods mills started showing suitings,
Bustled up a test drama of art and taste,
The higher life at slightly higher prices
Suggested by an exact at-homeness of stripe, bred
After luncheon the stocks prevailed further
In a muted influence and exercise of will
Tanging the office airs like manifests
Of season, which they were, unfolding spread
Conveyed not only crop but moon quarter,
State of mortgage, not only ground but floor
Of wage, put over to mind the color of climate,
Fence-rail and stool both, corn and boughten bread,
Conveyed, so listening was that atmosphere, a dry
Air that comes seldom at seaboard but then has absorbed
A catalogue of some possible warm accents and beliefs,
Conveyed warp brought to grief and packing rioted
Quieted in the streets of afternoon the dry interior air,
Occasioning a steadying of burlap in the late day,
Through the good offices of the rolls themselves
Their own substantial nature weaved and undersaid
Committee Report on Smoke
Abatement in Residential Area
Prevailing winds in this area blow
The fume of life away.
The mesh bag carriers when they go to shop
Can look around the day.
A ceiling blue maintains a working breath
Of ozone in the street,
And blinds blow inward with a birdy note
Of sun complete.
However, three or four months out of the year
Prevailing winds abate,
And the smoke of interest enters
Closet however strait.
Today is such a one. Some off in the smoke
Keep the miles dim.
And some at home bake black enough for the
kids when they get there
Bread of the brothers Grimm.
Restraining Harlem Cosmetic Co,
They say La Jac Brite Pink Skin Bleach avails not,
They say its Orange Beauty Glow does not glow,
Nor the face grow five shades lighter nor the heart
Five shades lighter. They say no.
They deny good luck, love, power, romance, and inspiration
From La Jac Brite ointment and incense of all kinds,
And condemn in writing skin brightening and whitening
And whitening of minds.
There is upon the federal trade commission a burden of glory
So to defend the fact, so to impel
The plucking of hope from the hand, honor from the
Sprite from the spell.
Moonrise in City Park
Here you have sky high one wall
And one at its shoulder to the sixth floor,
Here you have the two story house with the colonial door;
And says the sign, Beauty Culture,
Beauty Culture, says the sign.
Here you have the stack of dentist offices,
Here shoulder high the Philharmonic wall:
The nice culture of the mouth and music. Over all
The sign glows beauty,
Beauty, glows the sign.
Here rises from the blank and black the moon,
The blond beauty at the colonial door,
The bright blond face ascending from the sixth floor,
With the sign suggesting culture,
Culture, suggesting the sign.
From this park bench look up and say divine,
To the dark levels speak and say divine,
To the moon whisper also and say divine,
And the sign will join you, saying Beauty
Culture, saying the sign.
Given by T. Shaughnessy for the Sisters
Seven nuns went wading in the sea,
They wore no shoes,
They lined up along the shore and the shore washed out
And flooded back to the very knee.
A rough but good shore and sea.
The seaweed and the wimple habits were,
Close and alive,
Both cumbrous but of will designed and worn.
For every nun the sea was good to her,
And alike their habits were.
It was so rough a day, like cormorants more
You would have thought
The nuns would take to nest, but still they cried and stayed.
They were like to the devout sea, and to the shore
They sisters were.
in Boardwalk Ham Concession
What was that they heard past the peal
Of the booth's bells and the squeal
Round the turned edges of the wide red sucker?
Past the surf of the game wheel
The surf of ocean.
Here's your hot ham folks, tells
To the peal of the booth's bells,
To the round red face round the red sucker,
The driven voice that spells
Ham to the ocean.
What was that the licker heard
That her tongue slow on the third
Round tasted there more of salt than strawberry sucker,
Marking without a word
The lick of ocean?
Here's the turn of the wheel folks, cries
To the wheel's fall and rise,
To the fall of dimes and the face of the all day sucker,
The driven voice to the rise
And fall of ocean.
Polo Match. Sunday, 2 P.M.
Polo has that gravy look game,
Tough brushed out and thus adaptable,
Rare, but thick and springy,
Thought up as a grist well chewed by a gold tooth.
The soppers of that gravy save all Sunday for it
And picnic at its bounds; they sit on Sunday papers
And pay no fee but the warning distant gasp
Of the multitude so good for a good pony.
Polo picks up an area of turf and takes it
Right down the lines, it biases the natural green,
It goals the very day, with evidence
Of practice flavoring that efficiency.
Riders have the watchers licking chops,
Not only in the pleased way of relatives and friends,
But in the ready gust of the professional eaters
Taking the taste up deftly from a distance.
Gravy, gravy of the haunch and flexion
Sliding and righting, at a chewable degree
Soaks down the Sunday aft in a feast for the breadwinners,
The bread winners winning it all up deep to saturation.
Radio Request Program on a Wet Day
Black afternoon tarnishes heather rightly,
Lays it up against the wet walls, crumbled.
The spots of mist make up their patterns over
Windows and doors and color of the heather.
John and Betty my bonnie, and Joan of Fremont High
Have a recording requested and anticipation sweeping
Like an offshore sun and wind, and it blows and sparkles
Over the speaker, that created weather.
Clouds lowered right down in the street under the tires
Make up their sound in swish and drip devices,
Black and glowering muffle, but we muffle no inch.
Ride, red, my bonnie and my weather.
Blanker skyline never presented itself
To a home loving neighborhood, the hills all hid,
Streaks on the trees and doormats. But rock it all away,
Meditationous offbeat, pay off of weather.
Committee Decision on Pecans for Asylum
Orphans are to have instead of walnuts
From a state two thousand and twenty miles distant,
Pecans from home.
The Santa Claus committee up and authorized
One ton of black walnuts for the orphan stockings
But found ton bottom bad.
Took the word of the agricultural inspectors
Somebody had been led on a bad buy
Pulling the whiskers of the jolly saint.
Tossed out the lying samples suitable and savory,
Eligible for orphans, and acknowledged
Better pecans from home.
Orchards of home, the orphan house and home own,
Sweeten in the cold for their first hard teeth,
The fluted sweet brittle and home grown
Substance in sheath.
Kernels of home, frosting with Christmas cheer,
Crispen not for an individual mantel and tongue
But a massed patriot lunge and lick this year,
The hungry younger democrat so does long.
Shake out intending crackle over that brisk brick,
Making to matron and minor mildly known
How under the burnish and the bluff of stick
The sweet is grown.
The committee saint withdraws the possibility
Of a foreign exotic flavor for the ribs,
Of black nut crack,
And goes back of necessity to its original and time tried
Local lesson of the nature of good
Pecans from home.
Juke Box Serenade
How different is air
Uprooted out of sound
And set awhile to starve
In absolute quietness.
How different from this.
This drinks the ardor up,
It stems its life the less,
Fronds in the early dark
The altitudes of brass.
Art Gallery Closing Time
Steps never went away so far as when they carried
Mr. and Mrs. Smith out of the gallery of the museum of art.
Steps went down out of morning and one could not turn round and
They went down into evening out of the gallery of the palace of art
And so brought one into Mr. MacGregor's chaos,
A fine thriving city with cartracks and stop signs every which way.
They went out into the red network of evening,
One white marble portion after another nimbly rounding
Away from the morning marshes and flamingoes in the palace of the
legion of art.
Now That April's There
Coming up to the boulevard stop on the slant,
The poplars standing off along,
The white proceeding and as white crossed,
One would have to look a west sun in the eye.
Picking up after La Cienega the long quiet,
The porch lights flying, still as they are,
The cars staying along the curb north and south quiet,
One would have to go straight chin deep in light on the
Stopping for ice, bouncing in short against the red paint,
The store building facing up like a bastille,
One would have to get breath to look off down the street,
Down the low roofs, races of pavement, meadows of evening.
And so I would if there I were, there I would take
One into another the long flat avenues of the angels,
Lower than the west light, the luminous levels,
There through the shiny shallows remember that one dimension.
The Lighting of the Street Lights
Corinthian is the light they see by,
It renews Corinth in the fall of blue,
Polishing the car tops and the carob trees
In marble custom and the linear shade.
When they run out to get ice cream it is the light that
shines over them,
Fluted in length; it illumines
The face of the mantel clock when no one asks the time,
Abides that round of dark over them.
It is white on pedestal in classic vein
In the first pitching of morning when they come home elate,
Column burning with a cool ancient flare,
The light they see by, the Corinthian.
of a Small Fire in the Grate
When oak is burning, that is warming
At earth's fire, grown up in wood and established.
Newspaper stews and fizzles in the grate?
That, let a Barrymore conclude, is a wet humanity,
A print of a thousand feet and eyes, all damp
To keep a spirit flaring at its heat.
That is history not yet a wood, but a good
Pulp nipping at the flame, a personal endeavour
Of persons in the news
To serve and blaze.
Moonrise in a Lumber Yard
New wood under the sun will blister for heat
And split for dryness, warped in the woodyard,
Under the satellite it does not blister or split
But lies as cut, neat hard and fit.
The satellite implies to the new wood this
That it will have to take no nails nor saw in its side,
No nor filler nor prime nor what coat you please,
But lie as it is, wide and at ease.
The satellite assures with its frank white address
That this is what the wood is hewn for and displayed,
To repose in the glimmer and shine in the yards stacked,
In the balmy press inlaid, intact.
Nine O' Clock Show
Going into the show one heard nothing but closing sounds,
Doors closing, shutters drawing down,
Except before the palace and ice cream parlor
One heard the closing of the town,
One heard the shades and shops and nightfall drawing down.
But after Harlow listen what has arisen,
The rustle of feet in leaves and leaves in black,
The suck of straws and slam of a screen door rising,
Rising the racket of frogs in the waking black,
In the town in the field in the heart and the whole way back.
Preliminary to Classroom Lecture
My quiet kin, must I affront you
With a telling tongue?
Will not a mission or request content you
To move as you belong
The fields of doubt among?
The voice to burden down a tale upon you
Were indolent with din.
Would better ask and have the answer from you.
And would you then begin
Querying too, querying, my quiet kin?
Preliminary to Action
Magnifico Martin that dream dreamer lightly
Wrote his order in water and blew on it with his breath
To cool it, Magnifico Martin, waiting for the steam to congeal.
Came Monday, icicles on the bush, cubes in the icebox,
Frost on the stair, defroster in the tank,
The brew got cool enough and Martin drank it down.
Purchase of Lodging for the Night
Evil hemmed the curtains and swung in with them slightly
When slightly the western air blew in.
Evil starched the pillow, it was evil
So firmly feathered.
Tourist from high road came in and put his bag down,
Washed his face, read his magazine,
And there came evil numbering the page twenty,
Singing in the light bulb.
All night turned when he turned, looked across the mirror,
Crowed at cock-crow,
But lay still in the linoleum and hem of curtain
When he went down to breakfast.
Purchase of a Hat to Wear in the Sun
Sombrero is comfort because it keeps thought under foot,
Keeps the personal shadow to heel,
Keeps the stride covered,
Covers brain cosily from reel.
Paces along in a degree of sun put to it
To force hard, and under, the addle pate,
And yet filters all that compulsion
Compelled to its own colonial gait.
Provides the porch of shade and colonnade for thought
To rock in, surveying the domain not too continuously,
And steadies spot of domain out of sun,
Even where's none other to survey.
Tips the sombrero on, the mortal booted,
And travels under it, thinking
Just enough coolly and in shadow
To survive under blessing without blinking.
Purchase of a Blue, Green, or Orange Ode
Jake's store past Pindaric mountain
Over the wash is the only place in a day's ride
To get odes at except close to Mesa City side.
He has one glass a dusty one there
Full of blue green and orange odes sticky but o k,
And many come by on that account that way.
Scramble down off the hot flats, swallow a lot of universal wind,
Hear that lone freight pushing around sandy acre,
And they need for the slow swipes one green jawbreaker.
A slug of sweet, a globe of a barber's pole,
A suck of a human victory out of a crowd,
Sugared, colored, out of a jar, an ode.
from LOCAL MEASURES
Simplicity so graven hurts the sense.
The monumental and the simple break
And the great tablets shatter down in deed.
Every year the quick particular jig
Of unresolved event moves in the mind,
And there's the trick simplicity has to win.
The beautiful intense light of intense morning
Allows the fullest speculation toward the day,
The reach of every hand and hope outward
To come what may.
The noon the afternoon the night and after
Are all implied in the free life of green,
And morning's self-contained. But looks to windward
For more to be seen.
Neither events complete nor sun's attainment
Are enough thought for the green to gather in.
It's the pure black hope of morning so greens it,
The notion of again.
The steamfitter comes home in a pink cloud plainly
Keeps his helmet clapped on his head vainly,
It's a new day, season, and 7 A.M. only.
The quinces ripen in their most lurid blossoms,
They thicken on every side the streetcar pathways,
The dogtired steamfitter gets home between them.
One plush of quince at his own door he will doff to,
Take in the dawn his hard steel helmet off to,
But bush will not bend or petal blow, it's so early.
World at flag level rides ambitious ride,
The seagull air there flaps from side to side
And the terrific brink is countrified.
That's why so much dreamed up at flag level
Comes to completion in the yards lower,
In a paved world busier and slower.
And that's the reason in the highest offices
The officers dispose, bestow, at ease,
And the feet of the office girls float in the breeze.
Occasional mornings when an early fog
Not yet dispersed stands in every yard
And drips and undiscloses, she is severely
Put to the task of herself.
Usually here we have view window dawns,
The whole East Bay at least some spaces into the room,
Puffing the curtains, and then she is out
In the submetropolitan stir.
But when the fog at the glass pauses and closes
She is put to ponder
A life-line, how it chooses to run obscurely
In her hand, before her.
Goodbye, goodbye, the dark suited gentleman said,
Tipping his hat with a wide grin of departure,
Depart, depart. He thought of something else,
See, he strode back and bent low, he said
See, he returned.
Two in conversation make a mark on the lawn
Sparrows, seeds, all see the mark and go round.
Would it be not a farewell and dispersal,
Then fare well in the conversation, might as well
The way it lasts.
Goodbye, goodbye. But engine will not start
Nor cleaving action break the steadfast heart,
Nor hands in coat pockets leave and depart,
Nor wheel turn, street take away, but wait to see
The sober undeterminable goodbye.
What's in the air is won, the air over,
The veriest pebble and blade, the air over,
Veriest peak and plane, air over
Hope and hope.
What's in every listener's head, said or not,
Air resting said in every listener's head,
Is hoped and won.
What's hoped is breathed and blown over every town
And so banked and reeled over every field
And so borne aware
In every grain of air.
Puffs in the nebulae and spins and spreads
In the starheads,
The hope and care won in our very air.
The entire country is overrun with private property, the gypsy
I don't know if this is true,
I believe in the gypsy kingship though.
The lost tribes of my own nation
Rove and rove.
In red and yellow rough and silent move.
The majesty pot mending, copper smith
On the hundred highways, nothing to do with.
And black eyes, black I never saw,
Searching out the pocket lines of cloth
The face lines and the furrows of belief.
It's a curious fact, Stephan, King, if you are made to doubt
Aegyptian vision on the Jersey shore.
Property's private as ever, ever.
The steamfitter had no notion of buying an opal,
But a stone comes sudden in its meaning often.
He looked for a new watch, that part of his life, there was none,
He had to furnish his own time sense.
But this opal. Fire of time that burned in the antique reaches,
Roman omen, power of the sooth.
How comes so much actual straight evil into an opal?
Fix on a streak of bad luck, it goes out.
How comes so much red, then green, into an opal?
There aren't those colors in a glass of milk.
His wife didn't want the jewel but he bought it
And took that burden on, which fate forbore.
As I was going past Capstan's Well
I met a man in a woolen reefer,
A friend of my friend's.
What was his disposition?
He was bald as a bat
Blind as an egg
Bent as a lion, bold as a bird.
A singular complex of idiosyncratic qualities.
Then let me explain, said the man in the reefer,
I too am a friend of a friend and a dream of a dreamer,
A classical character often.
And often beloved.
Familiar to our readers
In all its special vein
Is the form of the tale in the author's careful form.
The incident beginning
And then begun again
With love and care to keep the cockles warm.
The palpitant unf oldment
And dear and sudden end,
The shape of the tale in the author's burning hope
Familiar to our readers,
But not the blind
Looking around of the mind for the shape.
Man of Letters
He had a reading eye which used to find
Jacks in the box in the paragraph, jacks to open,
And nobody ever drew to any better.
What he could see in Hawley-Smoot or the races,
Kayak IPs health for example, always had spring to it,
Jumped with a very grace from where in print it lay.
Take a long waste area of four hundred square pages with him,
And probably find before one hundred fifty
A bubbling spring, a joyful cap and bells, out at you.
O words so kind and human kind to take
That fortune from his eye, or give it to him,
Sprouts in the sentence, royals in the voice.
All our stones like as much sun as possible.
Along their joints run both solar access and decline
In equal splendor, like a mica chipping
At every beat, being sun responsible.
How much sun then do you think is due them?
Or should say, how much sun do you think they are apt to have?
It has misted at their roots for some days now,
The gray glamour addressing itself to them.
I should think possible that it go on misting likewise
A good way into next year, or time as they have it,
A regular cool season every day for our stones.
Not a streak that low of any sun or longed surprise.
Events like the weeping of the girl in the classroom
Bring to the demands of objects
Denial pure and simple.
Denies the sun, desk, hand, head of the girl,
Denies the book, letter, document,
Denies the ether of the natural will,
Any event like the crying of girl
In the chair in the sun
In the passion of denial.
I liked the small pale man who leaned, I liked the twenty
Five year old explorer at the pole of age,
The wan producer who knew his own desire.
I heard the quiet hero in the story relate
His long intention, and no more that day,
And that was crisis in its merest mention.
This one unshouting unleading and unpleading
In a creased still assurance tentative,
Waiting a magnitude to confirm and tally.
The ghost I liked, the young pale pole beater
Back with content and conscience, being ready
For a self-portrait in the face of State.
Where is the world? not about.
The world is in the heart
And the heart is clogged in the sea lanes out of port.
Not in the work or the west,
Not in the will or the wriest
Task is the world. It is all seaward.
Chart is the world, a sheet
In the hand and a paper page,
A rendable tissue of sea lanes, there is the heart.
Genealogists, geologists, and experts in falconry-
Walked over the green and stony island and approved it,
Looked in the face its people and passed by them
As a rock unprocessed.
Jotted down traces of races, croppings, and the brooded bird,
The eyries of a scandic shift to believe,
But more closely what to name ancestral and to make
What plunge in the feathered spot.
Lifted on highways and at club festivals,
The host genealogists, geologists, and falconers making them
Eyes to the host eyes, and pressed past them
To the height where the hood be lifted for work.
Into the spacious bay the sun of afternoon
And there two people, a man with a beard and a woman without,
At cards alone.
Lake traffic, line traffic, pine, plain traffic all around them
Roared but soft, rushed but not
Into the window many-sided,
Looking for a game to play, a war to win, some sort of
To be done;
While the spadebeard took easily a trick
Already a century won.
When swimming and croquet are in full sway, dolor
Asserts itself, rocks on the porches its own whited color.
Dolor dismayed with one life after another
Tells its tally, but never tells enough.
Never gets the last iota pat, never gets
Veronica buried, thought of her too late.
Extend, dolar, extend, assert, and let
No one walk to the postoffice in the middle of this.
Maintain on one sunporch, in one mild
Summer, one dismay unreconciled.
He killed and kept.
He doused the capitol city in kerosene,
He chopped the maples up for firewood
And then it was the city they kept warm.
All winter warmed preserved and kept
He told the city fathers: die, and they
Died with unwillingness and shock and met again
Next weekday morning for the usual course
Of minor and perhaps a major bill.
All morning voted and vetoed the village ways and means
He had his uncle understand the old was dead,
Laid down the old man's bay in earth for a leaner muscle,
And grayly from the grave came home to find
The glitter of watch chain crossed his uncle's dinner.
Saved for him. The heirloom worn aloft and soft and now
Saved for him.
To this man, to his boned shoulders
Came the descent of pain.
Cruel, blind, dear, horrid, hallowed,
Rained, again, again.
To this small white blind boned face
Wherever it was
The blows of pain, it took as it were blinded,
As it were made for this.
We were there. We uneasy
Did not know if it were.
The reason nor the man nor whether
To share, or to beware.
Cream shade down in the house
Upon the whitest noon
Withdraws from noon's dispense
A treble gloaming dream.
The dreaming eye yet views,
I swear by all this sun,
Calendar on the wall
And photo of its class.
But will not; and it fights
To make the symbols come,
To win a childish lore
In its eight hours off.
To deepened be and lost
To frightened be and held
To quiet be and see
In the spent afternoon
An underlidded dawn.
Query query back and forth the many questions of weather,
A satisfactory trip, tour, breeze, and sunset?
Yes a commendable a beautiful portage and panorama.
To steer a toehold in the mountain of this exchange,
To catch a cranny in this character, what a lift
What a lilt to the day's work and the summit of it.
It is a steep linking and roping, but it covers the ground
And it gets the view, and it proceeds in peace,
The endearing comment of the friends of the weather.
A gracious number of dark witted thieves
Stole all I had, in a pack as thick as that.
I was so disappointed I rocked as I sat.
I chewed on a straw hoping it would get sweeter.
It got drier and drier
And gradually caught on fire.
I spat it out, nothing left to chew,
I looked up the street and I looked down,
I saw that everything was really gone.
The people who got the goods enjoyed them I guess
For they never brought them back fourfold in a dray
As I expected them to until this day.
I heard the angry and overset voice quiet to articulation,
The brakes slow down that driven machine,
All gather under control of the white and mellow.
I heard pastoral pauses between syllables,
Sheep count the sentences as they went over,
And the sun of reason simmer benign.
Now here's the dell warm and dampened
Where cover's asunder and the toadstools spring.
The man to be photographed was a student of mankind
In sets, by which it lasted long.
And he read in a walnut room
Filled with the shadows of his projected thought.
One ship was stalled in oil, one carpet
Thread at his foot.
There was one vase gleamed in the forenoon
And another, after.
The photographer to get all this at all
Shoved back the blinds,
And set against the side of the portrayed studying forehead
A car-load sun.
When in aspiration
The brow is furrowed high
Over the oval glasses
That gleam the lifted eye,
When in strong resurgence
The face aspires to move
Beyond the lofts of vision
It is constructed of,
Ah face, alas, give over
The bodying of mind,
Or in your light discover
And blaze the watcher blind.
Those who look sideways, if their skin is dark
Look sideways farther and with more amaze.
There's white and oval startle in the quickly
And what the pupil sees, that I cannot
But only the apprehension of the eyeball.
In its roll the foregoing of fear, and the foregoing of thought
In its interval.
A movie light, I don't know what they call it, but it's white,
Cuts close the face,
Takes off the scar and grin
And makes it Michael, sir, and heaven sent.
Light cuts so close, and slices down the character so fine,
Makes profile out
A mountain range serene
Against a sky and makes the twilight airs come down and purify.
If it is not the man you know but only soul
Cast on the screen
In cut from brow to chin,
Have patience, few but camera read him so, and camera's
hounded by the show.
Ah face that has my heart in it
Corner for corner and mile for mile,
What will I do when in the instant coming
You look to smile?
All spires, acres, faces will be smiling
In just such sudden; there will be
All I ever knew, down to the last straw even,
Looking at me.
How conduct in its pride
Maintains a place and sits
At the head of the table at the head of the hall
At the head of the hosts and guests. Bring on the time.
Conduct, the nodding and laughing all is yours.
How gracefully and fine
The head turns on its stem
At the end of the table at the end of the house
And yours are all the becks and listening ears.
Bring on the several salads. See the crowd
Ready and reticent in its waiting sits
Leaving the whole thing up
To conduct in its garb
To do the anecdotal smiling, yes.
One rat across the floor and quick to floor's a breeze,
But two a whisper of a human tongue.
One is a breath, two voice;
And one a dream, but more are dreamed too long.
Two are the portent which we may believe at length,
And two the tribe we recognize as true.
Two are the total, they saying and they saying,
So we must ponder what we are to do.
For every scuttle of motion in the corner of the eye
Some thought of thought is asked in us indeed,
But of two, more: there we have likeness moving,
And there knowledge therefore, and therefore creed.
In all happiness and peace of mind
The man spoke a villainy, he was sore at it
And would have it back but it was gone already,
Ducked in the pool of the past and there no diver,
It was done for and he with it, he said.
But the very villainy got up of itself,
It was so light it ran, and he after it,
Asking everybody as he ran where it went to,
All had seen it and spoke of it to him,
They knew him by it.
When one summer eve in another county-
He met up with the villainy at a band concert,
Asked how it did, said here am I
My whole life and place of life changed by chasing you,
He found he held its leash, it was his seeing eye
Purchased and instructed.
The lady in the unbecoming bonnet
Let down her weeping hair.
She saw the broomstick and the witch upon it
The wind was full of bottles and the air
Aggressive as a shell.
The lady watched about her everywhere
The sallyings of hell.
The little boys stopped ringing at the bell
As she came homeward sadly. They had her cat
Spitting and mewing, a black one: lady,
Whose cat is that?
Who knows his way around a corner clear as day
When the lights let down,
Millinery store becomes a den,
Merchandise sobers coldly over town?
The running boys then with the spurt of noise,
Not to look and not to buy
But to lead the way
Of every empty corner under sky
Into the opposites of day.
Thank you for your kind attention.
How the ear can rest upon the heart.
The long bolster of a life story
Fresh at the ear and in every mention
Full of comfort.
Rest and attend again, for if more beating
Trembles in the heart to attend
It will be an undertale and differing story,
The second speech, a plea, and the more fleeting,
Told to the friend.
Plentiful people went to the Cadillac drawing,
My ticket was number nine seven two seven one,
And my friend's ticket was number nine seven two seven two,
Certainly a lucky number and easy to remember.
I thought of it all through the film, and I like Greer Garson.
heaven when the lights went up, the table trundled in,
The number called didn't even begin with a nine.
There wasn't even that much respite of hope after the happy
That is the kind of change the brave buckle
Time and again to.
All those people heart-rent and rustling,
1 wished the upper lights would not look down so,
The curtain not so aquamarine, the manager not in tuxedo,
Me not so pale. I wished the second feature
Dark and dreadful.
The extra-well-made movie ups and outs
In a soft snow falling, that's the extra.
Whatever sin of shock or corn was there
The snow redeems.
Or doves redeem, in a high flight flying.
The nineteenth century bird of blessing and relief.
There goes the soul, says Warners, up
Up into the air.
But, Brothers, see it fail. The birds fly,
Clouds fail in an unwilling flare.
Affairs now fostered are not fostered by
Any resolving sky.
Ever saw sidewalk uninterpreted?
This is one.
The Rialto sidewalk with environs
Makes no sense.
What does it give sea legs after a sea picture?
What does it give spurs after range riding?
A slippery basement tilt.
Any other sidewalk fits the foot,
Takes in and out of doors and miles away
Any number of acknowledging steps,
You lead, I follow,
I take you up on that.
But this cementy floor makes no legitimate offer.
It extends for the night flight survivors
To alight, not awake, but walk over.
Concerto from Above
Wood wind rests in a wood of wood indeed, breathes airs
Over a varnishy thicket of banquet chairs,
Supplements the structures of a slant of strings,
And its own woody wonderment thicketly declares.
I for one wonder wholly at the degree of furniture full
Spilling to the edges, fiddles and flutes all
Flaring to the gleam, such surface
Of stand stem, seat shine, percussion and viol.
Looks like a glare and clutter without comfort, the pieces
In multitude and without order, unless polish pleases.
But the banqueters sit them down, and in the wood
The wind, winding and will, somberly and in speed increases.
Purcell in many victories of his
Excised a bounty out of Francis Drake,
Even in the veriest exercise
Explored how rich a tax a pirate pays.
The pirate in his full freebooter ways
Encompassed endless shores and policies.
And Purcell was the man who took the stake,
And Purcell is the man whose shore it is.
Pit, balcony, plush black,
Mind and the resource of mind black,
The buried caved-in coal mine of spirits
Arm to arm, black to black,
Had dawn break from the wings.
Alpine or Zebraian dawn started up,
Flitted on the convinced pillar and prop,
Purely promised in the dawn's darkest,
And then grew and again grew
In the impatient impossible increase of the new.
When it reached the windows it slanted in,
And at the arm to arm unheard remembrances it slanted in,
One after one, the individual dawn,
Wing born, in all that blackness hard to bear
Upon the midnight of a different day.
The foot and knee of the dancer
Must learn the room he is in.
Must seek in the room of the dancer
Its special pleasure.
Whether of draw and rise
Whether of cramp and fawn
Whether of extensive and ambling leisure,
The identifiable measure.
The room of the dancer changes,
The way-stations of his ways
Collapse from hall ranges
To tiled bays
And back expand, flicker.
The toe's to tell
To the doubting heart of the dancer
If these mean well.
To tell to the cord of the dancer
What footing and follow is
On every fleeting platform,
And what platform his.
They drummed salvation in the darker districts
And a man cried Save me.
They closed the circle up, he was not a sober sinner.
He pushed at the corner crowd and came at them.
They closed the placards round that said Repent.
Easy easy there, the tall young preacher murmured.
See my scars, I repent, replied the desperate sinner.
Pull up my shirt and see the scars on my stomach.
They are my sins, count them, the sinner cried.
Then to the increased crowd the three soft
Sopranos started singing Judgment,
Jubilee for the unsaved and the unsober.
Three dogs bark at the street end, hear, this
Is a wild region, animals talk in audible sound,
What if one called it baying, then for 1 104
Or noyAor 11 26V2
Death were inevitably taking up the ground.
But ground here? ground with its growl and limitation
Not here at avenue. The poorest is paved and scaped.
And lift eyes, one will see the fuel of perpetual dawn
Over 1 100 block as over
The civil civic center where it is shaped.
Dog again, it is disturbed. In this briefest meantime
Municipal hum has taken itself close in
And does not as on milder nights accompany
To the 1 100 bed and board
The soft-soled progress of the citizen.
Dog answers and agrees; o pioneer
Five blocks to windward hear the click of rails
Bearing their car away, hear faulting up
Near to 1 100 block and nearer
The hoary quarries and the scrub of hills.
The light burns in the foliage, but the bushes
Will not burn.
The light flares and fades but the bushes in the dark
Assume no single spark.
The willows in the water drink and survive
Greening the channel water.
The black world moist and green
Where the light burns to be seen.
The incendiary mind of light pours its array
Leaf over leaf the light.
The full foliage thickened, the green bough bloomed
Will not be consumed.
Impervious to its pledge the human heart
Looks not to forward or to rear but sinks
Into an instant and there drifts entire.
How forward are the suns that rise again.
The pledge now called, the sources now are spent,
The scene impoverished and the heart secure,
What's time that lets not well enough alone?
How forward are the suns that rise again.
Perfection can insist percent's complete,
The round and perfect heart retire from love.
How forward are the suns that rise again.
A nothing out of which to create a new
Was never nothing enough for a new, never
Empty lost lone nought enough
To come clean new in any morning light.
Always in that limbo wide as it was,
Deep, down, as it was, somebody lay
Qualifying any possible creation.
Toppled in that void tossed there, and woke.
If I woke in Bombay it would be possible
The rooftops would confuse me, and the dying men,
Accustomed as I am to the skyline of the living
And the jerry buildings of tomorrow's life.
But it is not possible that when in confusion
I fled in the street, frantic for familiar sight,
I should not see in some face there
Your look as Indian as dense with life.
Men have their alien sons and love them,
The dear fist clenched in theirs,
The foreign taste fed at their table,
The wayward walking in their name.
They love their handsome son.
But they hate the foreign, though an open
Five-fingered hand like theirs,
The gall taste deep as another nation,
The ugly accent in an alien name.
Hate all but him, dear father, and dear son.
Who run the sea wall in diapers
Look to their job. They teeter
Straight like engineers in a known world
Observing and observed.
Their infinitesimal feet rosy as dawn trace on the granite
The wet track of concern
To gradings and goals. The sea both sides
Bluffs and betides.
Here's a gray afternoon, bleak as to freeze
The edge of thought like a hacksaw. Chinese
Die in the news, this wind on them
Cold as a garden.
The surprise is, that in the house across the street
Where his wife has been lately dying
Mr. Brannam lights the light in the livingroom
Early, like a crocus.
The pale new light he sits to read by blooms
Through the axed air west
Past winter gardens
To an Asian coast.
The courtyards of the inner heart go round
And round, so sure are they
Where they will end; the brick
Convolutions enter and extend
The individual life, and come to end.
Beyond, the plains of the universe compass hope
So thin so fast
A television cannot trace what spins
Political or polar in the shape
Of one quick trip.
Between, in middle distance where the seasons
In plenitude emerge,
Figures move together on the open
Course, out of the beleaguered heart,
Out of the universal siege.
Long as I was able, in the town of my birth,
I listened to the old men tell Indian stories,
And learned to patter them, while every fall
Came quicker in the year, and every Indian
Lay dustier dust.
It was astonishing that the Santa Fe railway
Both came and went, both travelled and returned,
Under a noon dust or an evening star,
And never stayed. I heard its journey
Both sides my sleep.
Now with the new airfield at Pylon's Corners,
I tremble to think what next will enter my mind.
Some semblance of an eternal Siberian winter
Blowing over the steppes of imagination
To blast an Indian story.
Returning from the north, I saw the sun returning
In the same car.
Back to our indigent county we retreated
From the summer war.
All us vacationers, dead, alive, burnt,
Said as we rode
That to live up to the Fourth of July, Christmas
Would have to be pretty good.
And we rode in the memory
Of the rockets' red glare
Blazing and disintegrating to our vision
In the soft summer air.
But the sun was recollecting in its wide glance,
Passive and regional,
Necessities of a colder danger, with the chance
Of a warmer festival.
The Day the Winds
The day the winds went underground I gasped for breath,
Did not you? — oxygen gone from the chest wall,
Nostrils pinched in the scant weather, strictest
Sort of equilibrium at street corners.
It was a pity. Who could walk in the hills now
Or run for a train? The water in a storm
Ran down the sides of buildings and the bark of trees
Straight down, like tears.
In the first days it was not so desperate;
I remember, though short of breath,
Thinking with relief in the dense quiet,
Fall will be quiet.
But more and more as the streets clogged with traffic
And the smog of the city's production lay on its eyes,
One could notice persons burrowing, hearts hammering,
Toward the risks of the wind.
What happens when the evangelist of truth
Waves his arms, shakes his fist once?
Does the truth stand by him?
What happens when the donkey of radiation
Brays in his corral?
Is it true?
What happens when in electric fields of low intensity
but immense extent
Perturbations are set up in a westerly current?
Cyclones move faster when they are young?
Evangelist! westward the course of empire takes its way
And every traveller asks what way is west,
What west is true.
Went into a shoestore to buy a pair of shoes,
There was a shoe salesman humming the blues
Under his breath; over his breath
Floated a peppermint lif esaver, a little wreath.
I said please I need a triple- A,
And without stopping humming or swallowing his
lif esaver away
He gave one glance from toe to toe
And plucked from the mezzanine the very shoe.
Skill of the blessed, that at their command
Blue and breathless comes to hand
To send, from whatever preoccupation, feet
Implacably shod into the perfect street.
Diligent in the burnt fields above the sea
The boy searches for what, sticks,
Cans; he walks like a rider
The rough and stumpy ground.
And finds all morning while the sun
Travels to crest, a blooming fullness of day,
Just one ant-paste spike, rusted.
Says the boy with relish, Poison.
Often at night his fears have told him these
Dooms to find in the hills, and his heart lightens
To find them there in fact, black as intended,
But small enough.
When I came to show you my summer cottage
By the resounding sea,
We found a housing project building around it,
Two stories being painted green row after row
So we were set in an alley.
But there is the sea I said, off the far corner
Through that vacant land;
And there the pile of prefabricating panels
And the cement blocks swiftly
Rose in the sand.
So darkened the sunlit alley.
Ovid, Arthur, oh Orion I said, run
Take Rags with you, send me back
News of the sea.
So they did, vanishing away off and shouting.
When I came to the porch
The faces that I met
Were family faces
Sheltering out of the wet.
When I came to the door
The Presidential race
Was being run off
Over the mantelpiece.
When I came to the stair
The word of the Lord
Met me, and it was not
A welcoming word.
But all through the mansion
Of retired men
Murmured the louder and the louder insurrection
Of the louder and the louder rain.
What strength give to riot that it can subside?
O hungry riot, here and here is food,
Eat and rest.
Comfort the little riot. Love is best.
But the big little roarer leaps from the breast,
Hungry, angry, and for no good.
And what then
Cries mother, cries uncle, to the rioting man?
Mother said to call her if the H bomb exploded
And I said I would, and it about did
When Louis my brother robbed a service station
And lay cursing on the oily cement in handcuffs.
But by that time it was too late to tell Mother,
She was too sick to worry the life out of her
Over why why. Causation is sequence
And everything is one thing after another.
Besides, my other brother, Eddie, had got to be President,
And you can't ask too much of one family.
The chances were as good for a good future
As bad for a bad one.
Therefore it was surprising that, as we kept the
newspapers from Mother,
She died feeling responsible for a disaster unverified,
Murmuring, in her sleep as it seemed, the ancient slogan
Everywhere the lights of the settlements
Are steadfast in their place, the streets of Tiburon
Straight up the hill, and bridges
Horizontal at the shortest distance.
On the near shore the Reynolds' radio burns
Red under its lamp, and our little blazes
Flickering and wavering, turn steady
Finally, in the stiff breeze.
Then from the pier pulls out into the tide
Silently a barge, bearing its lights
Three singly, cross the neighborly water,
Moving like conscience toward the longest distance.
Two Kinds of Trouble
Ruin of David directly offers
Determination out of two thousand years
Which meagre and young rose from its lesson
And took its sling in hand,
Head saying what hand has crumbled away.
Ruin of Adam, in his fibres the plaintive
Contortion of desire to live forever
Lives in a second vision forever,
Trunk at the twist of aspiration
Learned of a natural content, with hardship.
Ruin of Evening, robes heavier
On the spirit than dark, the wealth of abendland
Weighting the arms and eyelids, over the breast
Brood of somnolent passion, of long
Dreaming to come.
Ruin of Zeus and of Pope Julius
Hard men together in sinew of authorship,
Jaws at the clench, giants of David
Breathe their curly beards and blue beards
On the Atlantic rime, over to us.
Ruinless. To us, ruinless. Their gaze westward
Casts on fields of lettuce and rye
Message of a dimension for us
Length of the time of ruin in the world
Breadth of the shoulders of its magnitude.
When God said let there be light
The Darkness said let there be light,
In the dark irony of his being.
His chill assurance plucked the nursing sun
Daily from its place in heaven.
The suave embittered Dark
Sworn to his resurgence
Sat easily under the palm of the Lord
Like a lord,
His fillet Roman.
How can the supple day
Move from this desperate work
Heaving and sweating in the whirlwind,
Mild as a morning air
Into the morning?
It is one thing to see
Once the snake-ridden tree of Eden,
And another ever to pursue the shoulders bent
From Eden's discontent
Into the fortunate wilderness of stone.
Adam is unruly
In Noah and again
In David, in Zachariah and again in Jacob,
Looks God in the eye his frown and says
Let there be light, in irony of being.
I heard how Zachariah read out of his book
Warnings heavy and heavy-lidded
While two boys glanced over his shoulder
All they could never want to learn.
And how Jeremiah put down the book
Put down the robe of authorship,
Learned in his beard
The brunt of suspicious answers,
A heavy lesson.
Most gently I heard Daniel, when the breeze from the sea
Blowing his hair
Made him look away
To where in the locks of his heart the dark and the morning
Were saying there was light.
It was over the river, up from the channels of death
The caverns and waters
Bonds of bone
Into an arc as of morning
The lightest body rose.
To which now the Popes, youths, and cherubs
Eyeing askance the dark lip of Adam
Hearing askance the sun cry at even
High at heaven,
Answer in irony.
About the mission of Rio Carmelo
About the mission of San Juan Bautista, San Miguel,
Santa Barbara, better preserved,
Autumn crickets sing in the shrubbery
And wild grasses. At Carmelo
The river runs into the thickening sea.
From San Juan to Carmel and then down
Over the ridges the chaparral burns the sun away,
The great oven of air ladling herbs
To grill of ground, as ripe a medicine
[8 4 ]
As ever breathed corpse its new message,
Earth will consume and save.
How out of Florence the white roads ran
Precisely in their way
Along the poplar run.
The towered hills
In terraces as sharp
As statues in the noon's
To the foot as to the hand,
The wealthy processes
Of civic state.
Vertical and discrete
All alleys, sombre
All plaza squares
Like jewels of thumb.
Fleeing in Chirican sequences,
Our author ran
In the cool of night
And back again. To Rome
And back again, the agile
Paces of flight.
No more to flee
Florence than the board
On which he drew the squares
In black and white.
[8 5 ]
Maybe Sacramento is our town
Florence reminds you of.
A capitol base.
An oasis in the desert plain,
Pearl vanilla slums this side the tracks
And domes the other.
What is wonderful here is the air-conditioning.
While the sycamores
Draggle second-story verandas
In the canyon blast, as if an eyelid closed
Against a noon escape,
Here all the while the air-conditioning
Cools triplicates, controls
Every attic souvenir, cards
Every resentment which a grandfather spent
On down to a grandson since the civil war
Guides it through committee.
Well then what of heritage we have
Goes well here in bar and grill
After the aspect of a lottery
Southern or south Chinese or south State St.
To which one fled away.
To Rome or Florence
Where he took up the marble
And made the marble face
In which there lived
Then on, the master of Medician trouble
Into good times and bad.
There lived on, in the stone of the forest
Everything he fled,
The crime in the face of the master of trouble
The wrong he did
The corruption he dreamed
His jaw locked against a word of good.
And by the massive monument
Of self condemned
Self perpetrated and self fled to Sacramento
Came into his ugly ownership to live
To time forever
Even to California.
Now what I fear for our golden arroyos
Their golden leaves and stones,
When the mesquite burns in the dusk and the small shadows
Of our fleeing sculptor fall on the roads, is
That he see no face of evil for his conscience
To clarify. That he see no hawk nose
Greed sharp and angular in our capitol
Nor no sneer sinister nor scowl.
And again no bully chin bare in our capitol,
Barrel) awed in our ante-rooms no jut force,
Nor sleek sinews if you will, wry in the wisdom of
Persuasion drawn lithe at lip and tongue.
Nor cruel hollow eye nor empty ear
Nor bleak brow nor cheek broken and hurt
Nor twisted aspect at the temples' drill
Of rough unlatitude.
Not any ugly passionate powerful visage
Of man or stone to carve in anger
And to make our ruin,
But all air-conditioned.
[8 7 ]
Rather, I fear the photos of men of distinction
Fluttering in the low washes of the west
In the mesquite underbrush will breathe and tell
What we may know of life.
Smooth faces, smooth smooth faces
Good mood good personality faces
Smiling easy eager
Round bland planned personality faces
Church porch porch faces
Blind rind never mind faces
Pink think mink portraits
Of bland good blind men of distinction
Presidents and pards, patriots
And paternosters, and their smooth faces.
Rather I hope the hard and difficult choice
That takes the stone and carves it to our hand
The deepest lines of human character
That wrong in the teeth of time assert itself, its
Down the alleys and arroyos drift
Pages from the nameless magazines
Of our life, sift the bushes
In the heavy sand.
At the arches of the old adobes,
At the doorways of the ranchos grandes,
Slip the pictures of our easy strangers
In their two-tone spreads.
And a good man is hard to find,
Whether from home or from his author's mind
Whether from stone or from the complex mesh
Of Zeus in Adam's flesh.
From good and wrong
And irony of spirit,
Big enough for ruin
Should he choose.
Into our brick acropolis returns
The paschal lamb
New to this birth of his but hungry at
His horrid pen.
And keeps our health that we may nourish him
Alive and young
To spring in springtime out the leafage as
The world began.
And keeps our brick resorts as pliant as
Block upon block will yield to such a leap,
The frolic pasture in his city and
The planners' hope.
Iron as wrought wrings to similitude
Every dusty twig and crooked stem
And plants them in its park, assuming good
Every unindustrial use of them.
But botany prefers the patient iron
Put to hard uses over track and beam
To unclassif y Linnaeus and return
Veridical commerce, without thought of him.
At most times of the day and the night
Of the dusk and the morning
Of the dew and the light, I think I survive where I live,
In its brick shadow and execrable escapes,
By reason of a tree which greens itself at my forehead.
This is given, that stem leaps from earth,
That chlorophyl hollers in the mum alley,
And all which dies or returns to signify nothing
Is memorialized by the renewal of leafage
And reassertion in the outer branches.
But at a few times, in the heart of an instant
Not much illuminated, I can tell where I live —
In the slum of my building, the crumble of plaster,
The stay of its beams and its brick face
Made mortal as life and no more, as no less.
It's not my world, I grant, but I made it.
It's not my ranch, lean oak, buzzard crow,
Not my fryers, mixmaster, well-garden.
And now it's down the road and I made it.
It's not your rackety car but you drive it.
It's not your four-door, top-speed, white-wall tires,
Not our state, not even, I guess, our nation,
But now it's down the road, and we're in it.
The halt looks into the eyes of the halt and looks away.
No response there that he can see
To receive amply or repay.
But the halt will lead the blind; indeed
Note how the generous stick gestures to precede
The blind, blundering in his black, black, black need.
Well, yes, you are as angry as we feared.
But fearful fighter, why? this anger
blows up in your atmosphere
like a magic storm
brewed by vendors.
And when we say all's fair here, fair enough,
Bite to the quick that slight gentility
And blast the battered hob.
It's a black
enemy, by dialectic.
What would we do without hate, it makes ones two,
Wholes half, hearts hack, and a hullabaloo party
after every meeting.
It does transcend a duller habit
and synthesizes from defeat, defeat.
Said, Pull her up a bit will you, Mac, I want to unload there.
Said, Pull her up my rear end, first come first serve.
Said, Give her the gun, Bud, he needs a taste of his own bumper.
Then the usher came out and got into the act:
Said, Pull her up, pull her up a bit, we need this space, sir.
Said, For God's sake, is this still a free country or what?
You go back and take care of Gary Cooper's horse
And leave me handle my own car.
Saw them unloading the lame old lady,
Ducked out under the wheel and gave her an elbow,
Said, All you needed to do was just explain;
Reason, Reason is my middle name.
The elder Bond at Harvard secured
A daguerreotype of the Moon.
My ancient lady,
The willfulness which overcomes you, which
Gilds and golds your frozen tears
Is browned off here to family affection.
The sailing majesty which keeps him
Bound to your strings as to a lute's
Gilds, for you earthened, heaven for him.
Bad quartos were my first love.
I have worked in the particular possession
Of their providence.
Though increasingly wild the world
And as death corrupt,
My first love brings me succor
As I learn its script.
So that, in my presence,
Rank and complete
Spoil and error
Are not really dissolute.
I will take them up
And gently gent-
Ly love them, tell them
What they have probably meant.
The man with no ears
People talking in the park and lobby.
He is upset,
Their private ramblings concern him,
Do not let him forget
He has no ears.
What about the whole head then —
Placed either side,
Those fine organs of discrimination
Clean to the breeze —
Is it not possible such a head will hear
Just that which is spoken
And no more?
Rather, by often chance,
The delicate receivers
Bring to the brain such overtones of remorse
The whole head must operate like a blind man
Deaf and mute
To all or nothing.
And the choice
Nagging past bell to book or bark to voice
Past no to yes
Past yes to irony
Holds him the head up till its listening spirit
Wishes the hearing
Headless of itself.
I would sit in the window's ledge
At Los Angeles High School
To watch the pecking sparrows
To hear the bickering girls
Their warm and lively life.
The sun that shone thereon
Would draw to warmest life
The coldest bone and silent
To ruffle in its dust
Bicker its edge of sun.
Now what shall I say of the cat
That sprang the pecking sparrows
What of the aunt that ate
The slightest bickering girls
What of the heart
Once warmed by delicate rays
Now sheltering all that sun
Till it would bless and blaze
A thousand windows in
A universe of schools?
Who is that student pale and importunate
Whom I have left with a heavy burden and forgotten all about?
Who wakes me as I fall asleep, asking
What I want done with the job now that the year's over.
And indeed I remember now he has been doing all my work,
Setting up the experiments, kidding the bystanders,
Puzzling the problems, and I have forgotten him
Till now too late, and must wait until morning.
Who is he? my thought which I deny until the dark,
Or one literal person I have now forgot
Who, early in the alphabet, recited
More than I could learn until tonight?
Apartment hearts within their hearts so lie
Their hearts are all their own economy,
And trade too terrible, current too quick,
To tempt the resident to try his luck.
The resident indeed is filled with pride
He's so sufficient and unsatisfied,
And stays his quarrel by a long-term lease
And draws his walls within, and sues for peace.
Improbable time who frowns upon my face
The glower of improbability, subside.
The prophet rose in the church when the people were praying
But told no future they had not f oreborne.
Now prays the brain toward the improbable
And fist and knee toward grace, what you foretell,
Time, echoes the house and interrupts the prayer
But finds no future unaccounted for.
Busy sickness, pay me attention, said a hero
Falling down, with his bland beak encored,
An accumulation of agues in his power
Ready to devour, should he give the word.
He hesitated, with concern for some care
And necessary solicitude if he succumbed,
Saw no signs of any anywhere,
But could not unflatten whence he had unclimbed.
So gave the nod to a most petty fever
To burn with its eyes closed on his tough
And frank forehead; it could not burn forever,
And expired finally, but it was enough.
When I transact divorces of the mind,
And am hailed in abstraction tangled like a city,
Strong and devoted, as absorbed as that,
Suddenly I look up and see grandfather green.
Green sycamores, green leafage, shade and sky,
Green form and shape, in motion to my hand,
Every shape a gift and every
Burden a reminder.
And I think, Pater and my fine fathers,
Your rich prose taught and taught us at its knee,
And still thunders its cloud we argue under,
Yet now we argue barest daylight, in the expanse of green.
Ten Dreamers in a Motel
Some people said the cabin
Wouldn't hold us two,
Two hundred and forty pounds,
Two hundred and twenty- two.
But note wherever we moved
Back or face to face
Outside the windows flew
Hundreds of butterflies.
So that within our walls,
Walls that denied us well,
Glimmered the wing that tells
All things are possible.
To elephant and elephant
Stalking exact apart,
The centennial memory
Of a light heart.
At this dinner I was telling you about
Next door to this motel
Was your pal your host,
And me, and a mother, daughter
Come to greet you back, how they loved you.
She for the past as if a bowl of carnations
Sat with the chicken;
She for the chicken;
He for the silverware.
The lines of life which moved between you
Like toy tramcars
Were also like toy speedsters
Building up speed.
An electric party.
Except, between us, you
And me met to greet you back,
Was absence still.
A freedom free enough to kill.
One day we started out
To pick up driftwood. I was interested
In a housing project there, I had heard a lecture
Illuminating the beach like lightning.
It was my concern
To raise on the shingle rows of boards
On which the great foundations could be built.
Rather, I found the shanties were up already,
And indeed down already, every one
Empty to the tide as if just then
They had been lived in but would live no more.
I turned round.
If I had been looking south I looked north
East west I turned.
On which of the many hills
Of suburbs out beyond the State Fair on Saturday morning
Did we pasture our goats?
Up down over the Marguerite Street district
We saw the angel ladders behind before us
But not that field in which our thoughts were bound.
Conceive if you can the animal desolation
Which besieged us on all sides other districts than our own.
We were, myself and self, not enough to ensure
Any comfort of company, but one who will say
So it is, and not let me deny, say
Let us go back by the municipal railway.
Carombed out of town in a comedy chase fashion
Police oblique to our path, and statues
Wheeled over, through Harlem, and all more wasteful as
And ended up at this tourist cabin,
Its outlook, so it was said, restful.
Went to the window,
Pushed aside the curtains and there saw
That countryside we longed for: rocks
Steep slopes of rocks, rubble and rusk of rocks.
What is it? and you said, moraine.
When we came back all the underpasses were flooded,
Highway 40 blocked off
And six inches of water at the supermarket.
So it was necessary to go round by the byroads.
So it was that we came to our street from a different view,
Saw our neighborhood from aside and below,
Stacked up the hill our houses in their shrub,
Their windows empty as an evening sky.
And so it was we saw that they dwelt without us,
Endured merrily as bastions against our presence,
Persons of note and self in the rainy evening,
Lampless and starless.
I saw a field of folk in fit array,
A circus field, or fair,
A tumbler tintwister and autocourt carnival
Brought for the day.
Among which I went, larking and singing,
Crowding and wandering, till
Where was I? everybody wandered
While I stood still, longing
To find myself out, there to find,
And in relief
I felt at my shoulder, straight beside me,
Father or friend.
But it was not, but a strange
Present person who stood,
To whom that field fair and carnival
And I, he said, belonged.
I went to consult a psychiatrist on this morning,
A nervous woman, whose curly headed four-year-old child
Played in the room, sitting staunchly
On a great medical scales.
I defended myself thus. It looks as if
All this weariness came from too much work,
But rather I think it a problem of person,
Friend or foe, fortune of parent or pardon.
The nervous psychiatrist ran her hand through her hair
And glanced at her watch. Have you taken a trip lately,
It would do you good, and take your mother with you,
She needs it more than you do.
Then I laughed to hear my own prescription
Given to myself with such good humor
In the grey weariness. But then she said also,
Take with you also my curly-headed four-year-old child.
I said to my iron class, I am desperate, desperate,
You must learn and you will not.
Each by each I looked to into the light and said
You are fast in darkness.
Each to each I said I am desperate, desperate.
Then one rose from his seat and sat beside me
Touching my hand and saying, out of his daylight,
Do not despair.
Midway stayed at a court between there and here
Where woodsmoke rose up straight into the sky
Cabin by cabin the suppers cooking
Far as the eye could see, the courts unfolding
It was the tent and citadel of the many stars
It was the rampart of the loud highway
And we slept there, waking
Into the thunder and silence of the unfolding
The Plastic Glass
A saint I heard of saw the world
Suspended in a golden globe; so I saw
Shattuck Avenue and the Safeway Stores
In Herndon's globe of friendly credit.
And where the car moved on, there the whole trash
Flats of Berkeley floated in suspense
Gold to the Gate and bellied to the redwood
And I would ask the saint at what expense
This incorporeal vision falls to the lay mind,
And search the breast
For revelations of unquietude.
But in this dear and christian world the blessing
Falls not from above; the grace
Goldens from everyman, his singular credit
In the beatitude of place.
The way I would look at the world, the houses
Take up half, the horizon
Moves straight across the view.
And the base half is houses, the roof lines of houses
Marking off the blue.
By what aerial license would it be possible
To promote any other line?
The piteous valley vista, or the terrible
Seen by plane?
I would legislate against the Icarian downfall
As against the ascent of F6,
And take care
That the great legal skies of human vision
Observe their human shore.
Once there lived on the east side of the city
One who wished to meet
One who lived on the west side of the city,
A thousand miles away.
A thousand years went by.
Then the one who lived on the east side of the city
Set out on the main street
And met the one who lived on the west side of the city
Coming that way.
Miraculous life! that in its brief and mortal
Progress achieved this union of intents,
Inevitability sprung from the improbable,
Volition moving in the paths of chance.
My pride should effect your escape,
It carries every key.
Its own trusty, and a good chiseling trusty,
It can at its own price set everybody free.
[.o 4 ]
And that is pride's advantage, that though it keep
Jailed itself at an interminable wall,
It recognizes the graces of the free
And can dispense freedom from its cell.
Idea of Joy
The idea of joy, abruptly,
Like the idea of day,
Came and clothed the body of the lady
In an array
As of field or fire
And she withheld
Any comment on this procedure
Until it was revealed
That garmented in this glory
And clothed in this joy
She was at a loss for words completely
And knew not how to say.
So that I write for her
With secretarial speed
What she would have faithfully
Conceived and said,
That it was not joy which dressed her
So sudden as the day,
So bright as the fire,
But the idea of joy.
[io 5 ]
Hello my beautiful small bird,
Said the man to the mere bird.
His soul to vex itself pretended
The feathered friend paid no attention.
But it did, such a love was lost all around it,
The bird ruffled its feathers and fled and sang.
Too bad for the vexed soul it sang only
A singing language.
I am bound to write you a letter again, this chore
Is never done, never replied to, nor
Communicative; its address
Takes it to wordlessness.
Today a great variety of light loves
Play here for you, preen here for you like birds,
A piano roaming, a f reesia blooming,
A plane levelling off, a train leave-and-arriving.
And I flourish as you do, and as will
Those who will spell
What this letter has to say verbatim
And see it is for them.
Only the halting and waiting bell of the train
Now dallies from the depot valley
And drifts its clear impatience up the lane
Like a lesser trolley.
For we would wait, but it would not, and it shames us.
Its abrupt meditations swung and renewed
Like any cow's in the briary valley,
The lyrical crystal will not be withstood,
Echoing to its folly.
It reveals its folly as we do not, and it shames us.
The summer dusk to the midnight dusk will keep us
Face to face in the shadow our eyes darken,
Lingering yet in the phrase of another making,
With the air shaken
By the bell in its split to a shout and a shout and
it shames us.
The complicated bush of blood in its branches
Reddens at the rise of summer suns.
Starts flowers, shoulders the corollary
Splendors and reforms of summer noons.
Beneath a burning cloud then it darkens
And clouds itself in vaporous designs,
The red stilling and warming as it whitens,
The flowers floating in the milky veins.
[io 7 ]
Graham-Paige, a car I once rode in,
Carried me out of this world, and I was afraid of that.
Who wouldn't be? You wouldn't be, I see you
Driving across an equal abyss your heart.
At every crossroad
Pause the exporters of their worldly good
Patient as passive
As if they would untravel if they could.
And my antique memory
Sifts me the Graham as if
Were a crossways cliff.
So that the power at your hand and foot defrayed
Is all my expectation and dismay.
And at every turn you save me.
You slow and save.
My adequate eye, to print, package, curb
Adequate, and to the natural scene,
Sees leaf by leaf but not
Your thought by thought.
My adequate eye, to your forehead and front
Adequate, and to your offered glance,
Sees beat by beat but not
Your leafy heart.
My eye, closed, dreaming, and inadequate eye,
Sees several selves all yours and graced in light,
But not your delicate grist
And adequate grain.
We have lost so many leaves
in loss, loss, loss
Out of the sky,
What shall we do for shelter to live by?
Not roof shelter, but leaf shelter,
Which a thousand light ideas give.
Retire under somebody's constructed rafters
or be grieved that a truthful brain
Exists under a truthful sky
With no palaver between.
Four hundred children expect from one another
Each what from himself he has ceased to demand,
Each demanding, because as from his brother,
Degree of devotion none can understand.
So I from you, by what myth of loving relation
Who could fathom but a mythologizing friend,
Require, request, receive after such fashion
I can imagine but not comprehend.
My heart's so wealthy, I am put to spend it
More than I know how.
Thrift dismays it, a heavy fortune
That never has enough.
This is the purse of story
That fills to the brim however much is spent.
A treasury for a braver keeper
Than modest love has learnt.
Matter of Fact
In the midmost and sensible real of the years of my life
Hallucination like a storm
Comes to its feet beside me
Named by your name and calling me by mine.
So that lamp, storm, student, and friend
As it were love me,
And it is my luck
To love them dearly, as you demand.
They are sensible real as the life of my years
And I love them
As a matter of fact.
And I love you as a fiction of theirs.
Sir, the objective correlative is love.
It vapourizes not inside the heart
Like fogs of happiness or despair, it is
Of mass, space, energy composited
And touchable. What vagaries the heart
Turns feeling to, their object turns to love
Round, square, and tall as any classical stone
As any human form, correlative.
Shoulder to head is the height of my life to me.
My level eye
Looks to his rib as his long and level eye
Looks to the sky.
Shoulder to head is the height of my learning, there
Heart to ear
Lectures for me to listen, as his ear
Listens the sphere.
Shoulder to head is a height never to reach
By an equality of speech
But by my speechlessness which ever is
More patient though less possible than his.
You are a riddle I would not unravel,
You are the riddle my life comprehends.
And who abstracts the marvel
Abstracts the story to its sorriest ends.
But not your riddle. It is patent,
Never more than it says, and since that is
Impossible, it is the marvel
Nobody, as I am nobody, believes.
This gray board fence turns blue in the evening light
And the sycamores reign down upon it their diadems,
And blue and green batter in wood and stems
The stems of light
Their green and golden gems.
At once, out of a million years of energy,
All turn to flesh — board, gate, and branch —
With that quick sunset wrench
Which seems like chance,
Not in the fashioning of entropy.
If then the flesh is yours, as now it is,
I have lost yard, sunset, and all
Into a mild greeting, and I call
The sunset to your thought, to tell it is
Parent apparent to your rich apparel.
When I think of my kindness which is tentative and quiet
And of yours which is intense and free,
I am in elaboration of knowledge impatient
Of even the patientest immobility.
I think of my kind, which is the human fortune
To live in the world and make war among its friends,
And of my version, which is to be moderately peaceful,
And of your version; and must make amends
By my slow word to your wish which is mobile,
Active and moving in its generous sphere.
This is the natural and the supernatural
Of humankind of which I grow aware.
NEIGHBORS & CONSTELLATIONS
A Foreign Country
Outside this room, — from where you sit on the floor you can see it,
From where you lean your head back in the chair you can see it,
Out the arches of the windows
In the slanting western sunlight at your fingers' tips, —
Russia extends, another country.
These trees we see grow in Russian territory
Just beyond Magnitogorsk, in what they call
Suburban acres, they thrive there.
The sky, pale blue today as the faintest sort of idea,
Floats over us, thinking another language.
Figure the northwest echoing forest of fir and pine,
The snowcapped peaks of the Caucasus
More remote more near than the Sierra.
Eastward across the Caspian the parched expanses
Where nomads pitch their tents like Arabs in the sun.
In central Asia the minarets of Tamerlane,
In Siberia, Mongolian Buddhists,
In the black earth, wheat grain and rye; by the black sea
Fruit orchards, vine terraces, tea plantations.
Oil at Baku, gold at the river Lena.
This is the world of hell, as if you saw the sky darkening
Just outside, always at arm's reach.
What once below in brimstone burned and languished
Now takes the topography of an earthly land mass
Contiguous to ours.
We are beside ourselves, and hell beside us
Flares up its fear
Even to the enigma of the sky we share.
And every human circumstance we share in
Turns foreign to protect our hesitation.
Consider that instant of anger when to the blow
Of fist or word your blood rises
Like a tide into the brain of hate,
And opposition is like a wall intolerable to protest.
That instant occurs not to the pure spirit
Of Magna Carta, but at the Dnieperostroy,
Where a clubfisted cavalry rides like a wall of iron
Against its innocent and starving victims.
Pity for self in pure oppression wells
Against the eyelids of the angry sleeper
And wakes him to the jolt of frozen winter
With the hooves of those riders full in his face. Defend.
And the face of those riders Russian to the core.
Along the street of a small Moldavian village
Warm with sun in the late afternoon
Walks the Red Dean. All the children
Run out to meet him, tumbling in the dusty mud,
Crying in the still slanting air,
Running to kiss the cross he bears.
The pastoral condition. I detest it.
Terrible condescension and blind
Enthusiasm in the color of everyday
Burden my thought, whether I am the keeper
Or the flimsy kept, redrobed as gospel bearer
Or as tattered as
The scrawny children running to be blessed.
One alien midget face after another
Black eyed and foreign to my blue regard,
Looks to that cross as if it were not mine.
What about the unjust vote on the floor of the chamber?
It was manipulated by an inner caucus
Of the party, false as a wig.
Inner spies, over whom the truth cannot prevail.
I spoke ably to the proposition,
Pled for the sincerity of our principle, marshalled the possible points
Briefly and succinctly. Yet we were voted down.
The totalitarian picture is unalterable.
In the great place where the avenue
Comes into the market square
There a statue is builded
To a living god.
Who build ^ i living god, his beard preserved
In formaldehyde? It deifies myself .
I will not be responsible to keep the corpse alive
I will not feed my faith into that beard
Under that glass.
Dissolve the Sunday corpse on Monday morning
And let the living children jump and jump,
Like fleas the living godkins
But say your concern is electrification, solely,
A large production platform like a plan
Rolled year to year, a forcing from the rock
The rush of waters at their giant source:
Would this not please you, the chain of dams reading
Down the Urals, over to Kazakhastan
To the tents of the Arabs? Power stations gleaming
And high wires like a blaze of concept
Above the chores of fact? I would like this better,
A Turbine, than a Safeway, Manager.
But still you pardon me. You know, better than I,
Within the grasp of continental power
How dangerously madmen preside. Roskolnikov for example
Murders up and down the attic stairs, you feel,
You cannot trust this brooding Russian spirit
With any nice machinery of ours.
And indeed I see you are right.
As you spin the dials
And the lights come on again all over the world
There's something in your aspect darkens me,
The bitter mouth which Prince Alexei drew,
All that cavernous speculation
Which roars in the ears of the turbines like a wind
And hangs above the stars on Dienerplaza
A cloud of doom. O come
Out of that blackening power to the Safeway,
Store Manager, come home.
Moving a little eastward, our fear arrives
At Baku. Well known Baku.
One of our trustees
Is thereto allied.
But what that gleaming substance
Would do a less hardy pioneer
In the way of glossing
Any one who has ever stopped at a Standard Station
Knows the cleaning up oil has required
And so the oiled heart
In the glass house.
They say the streets of Izarka are built of well polished timber
Like bridges over ground all year caked with ice,
The houses like chalets above these shallows,
And they grow cabbages in the nine-week sunlight
Between the night and night.
You could be alone.
Severe and honest as a single tree, a single stone.
Or, like Kurambek Alimozhanov, you might live more mildly
In a central district, a village in Kazakhastan,
And look from your cottage to the sun-flooded steppe
Flat as an eye can see, beginning the desert,
Noting, like a spar at sea horizon,
A commune tractor, driven by a Buryat Mongol woman you may
She has her orders.
Free breath into the hearty lung
Breath as the spacious plain,
Why drawn into the speculative lung
As if in pain?
The free grapes of freedom are sour.
No one knows how to cultivate them.
The tundras of the breast constrict,
The enviable spaces horrify us.
From continental doubt there echoes back
No intimate evil we would wish to claim
But icy evils of vast enterprise
Would kill a man. And maybe has.
Troubled as was my sister by the crossing
Blocked by a red light, she stopped, waiting,
And mused at her own anger.
Red lights make me see red, she said,
And the more this one
When up and down the boulevard near and far
No car loomed in, the asphalt was all plain
Waiting to walk across.
An empty breeze ruffled the kelly jackets,
Everybody had to get somewhere there, and the world theirs,
Except the tyrant light which lit and lit
Against their coming and their going over.
And my sister said,
I know I would die
If many of these lights were set against me:
A light on buying butter, a gong on lipstick,
A clang on prayer, red on the morning paper,
A grievous grievous green on one-way progress.
My sister turned right around in the empty traffic
And stamped the continent of Asia under her heel.
My brother visited a Russian ship
When it came to the harbor.
He liked ships, and he liked to talk to people.
He came away scared.
It was a black rusted loaded and caked ship
Its captain a woman vast as a bale,
Its crew darkening from brow to brow
Cursing and turning away
From my brother the spy.
Glades of convenience
Where we rest and wither
Give us the sense of charm,
The early riots
Blending in together
Out of the way of harm.
Peaceful at age
Whatever age allows us,
We build the basement room
To keep in fashion
Lest the age surprise us
Nook of Victoria,
In the Afric jungle
British or even here
Is what we dread to find not
For many another year.
The bloody children there
Nor rest nor settle
Nor speculate their strife
But spread the globe
In a perpetual battle
Against the glades of life
The golden in agreement
Glades of life.
What does Enemy mean?
Not who wants what you have,
He is an envious friend.
Not who has what you hate,
He is your fond acquaintance.
Not who needs what you need,
He is your fearful stranger.
But what you are,
Whose death will be your death,
Whose life will be your death,
Who you most are
And living must not be,
Who can contain
The furious enemy
Or the rapt enemy
Whose death will be your death,
Whose life will be your death,
But hold his choking breath
Until he choke to stone
And you be stoned alone
In twinned and double death?
Yet brother unbeknown
Must still be alien.
And there we are lost:
We cannot put to test
Our knowledge or love.
We are pledged to be blind
By a totality of mind
Which has said: we shall learn what we already believe,
Study what we like,
Behoove what we approve,
Read our own creed
Hear our own ear
Capture our own rapture,
Making ourselves fit
To meet an enemy
And be shot by it.
What is a total mind
Fixed in a total state
But that which denies surprise
And thinks itself its fate.
What but a unity
To which variety seems
Death and inconsequence
Out of the lore of dreams.
What but united states
In which the rivers run
All one way
By an electric sun.
What but monopoly
In which the villains are
Small enough to omit,
Large enough for
Major and total war.
And our monopoly
Our undivided self
With no surprise or change
No vision or remorse
No rivals and no victors
And so one enemy.
And so one total whole
Vast and incurious
Autarch and monopole
A rider to the reaches of the heart
Brings in the intolerable Russian news too late.
Careening, this pony expressman lathers his message
With fortitude and haste; and all other
Visible means of communication
Are still, are stilled.
Between the continental masses,
Between the valves of the heart
Ticks no telegraph, moves no moving picture,
Circulates no newsprint, black or white or red,
Beats no blood to believe itself thicker than water,
Rouses no breath to speak communication
From one wall to the next.
And the heart is restive,
Its chambers laboring in their disparity.
Outside the room the skies of Russia darken
Without a sign to us of any kin,
The infernal plains sever communication,
The feud of the heart strengthens itself within.
Yet it is possible somebody here may learn something,
A touch may tell, an act in hope achieve something,
A blind sky reveal something,
A heart a moment free in itself hear somewhere
A voice alien to its own to the point of amazement
Speaking a foreign tongue, speak truly, —
And make in English an impossible answer
Yet true. Yet true.
My Packard Bell was set up in the vacant lot near the stump
Of the old peach tree. Before it, a love-seat
In tan and green told us what comfort said.
And many looked over us, or sat on the ground, why not?
There certainly were not enough ashtrays for everybody.
And from there it began.
All down the dingle through the mustard ran the voices,
All down the shale in the sunlight ran the faces,
A board fence on the left and a board fence on the right,
Because after all this was private property.
And this is what they said:
He was a child of the people and he will be a man of the people.
He read the Bible at his mother's knee
And that Bible has followed him
All the days of his life.
This is what they said:
The sovereign state of Alabama
Gives you a leader of the people for the people
All the days of his life.
Equal educational opportunity, political opportunity, economic
Ability, honesty, integrity, widows and orphans.
Canal Zone deems it a privilege
To second the nomination of that great
All the days of his life.
This is what they said. This is what Cooper Blane
Representing the sovereign state of New Jersey said.
Now all the apples in our apple orchard
Are ripening toward fall
And on our poles the beans are greening fast
The pods with sun alert.
And stubble in the field keeps springing yet
In fresh weed, white puffs of daisy weed,
The cat after the gophers
And the breeze brisk.
Round the ears of Packard Bell brisks the breeze
Blows the volume loud and away,
Puffs of volume pile up in the fence corners
Where the cat is active.
What do we understand?
First of all, we know the speakers are speaking the English language.
We can tell that from our love-seat, and others agree.
Second, they are both loud, lively both, and there are two of them.
Who are you for?
Now enters from the upper left, the hill slope,
A dog. After the cat.
For a while we miss the whole campaign,
But later the dog comes round for friendship.
Pats him the taxpayer and the tax receiver.
Now enters from the upper right a fisherman.
He leans to hear what's sounding on the screen
Then wordlessly he fades
Down the green sidepatch and the cliff steps
To the roaring bay, leaving no vote behind.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I spoke to you last
In Pawtucket, Maine, the tide was coming in
With a long roar against the shingle of the world.
And ladies and gentlemen I say to you
Vote now against corruption, calumny,
Crime, evil, and corruption,
For the tide is coming in
With a long foreign roar against the world.
Against Winthrop Rockefeller, fair play,
Farm money, cartels, bourbon, and the fifth districts of the world.
Slowly comes up the moon over Lottie's rabbit shed,
Fencing into the sky its bars of protest,
But the vote midwest moves at another cycle
Of midnight desperate.
South Dakota five no,
Robert J. Martin of the fifth district, no.
And at the four hundred and eightieth slogan
The yes and the yes that will survive the midnight.
One sure thing is
That the tough tubes on this little old Packard Bell
Jiggling and jumping in the twi- and moonlight,
Hot as hornets in the excitement,
Won't set the beans on fire, and won't
Harm the cat, and won't
Even warm us where we sit and listen,
But will burn away
Lively as bugs in the midsummer
To get the last yes and no in the midsummer
On record to the moon's blanched countenance.
Who are you for?
Persons among the flapping clothes
Are flapping clothes.
Elevated by the wind aloft as if
Among branches they burgeon far beyond
The roots of carrots in the growing ground.
Grub later, says the rosy dress
Windf ull, billowing among skirts,
Jeans, socks, now reach up,
Be a balloon airborne, a full flower
On the leafy line.
Parts from this concourse then the flapping elder,
Smoothing her dress
Away from the happy dress,
To pace the root row, where the prospects
Cast their shadows on the fallen ground.
After the yellow schoolbus with the waving windows
Turned away past the corner, Sanders came over to ask,
What do you do at school? He never listened
Long, but galloped on a springtime saddle.
Where he rode, the wild ponies
Followed him in droves, so he was always responsible
And in authority, and could scarcely countenance
School, when it came the season for him.
In a crackle of blue jeans he went off to it
Waving and transportable with success,
And came back to walk fretfully over the fields, asking
What do you do at home?
Silence comes down the street to us in the shape
Of those three girls.
They are going to walk past us.
The big brag of our coffee morning,
Our open mouths with their billions of words.
Now we come walking into this big silence
Heavy as doom,
Past this big and impractical thunder
Heavy as silence.
Say something, Marvella, Leonia, say, for example,
Into the side aisle seats flicker the pony tails,
Then out to see the fights in the lobby.
Till the boys come back in too and sit down
Heavy, angry for the popcorn.
Then out up the aisle like a troupe
Of spoon lipped bug eyed sky rimmed angels,
And damn your lip, and damn your dime, that's my dime,
And shove — over on a bysitter's hippocket.
Then flock back in again down the aisle to the seats, birds,
With the usher patrol now working, flashing its lights
As club or illumination, to reinterpret
How love, on the steadying screen, is many-splendored.
So populous the region
That from the next region
The crowing of children, barking of cars could be heard,
So that a continuous linkage
Of sounds of living ran
In the limber air,
District to district, Woodlake to Montclair,
Freestone to Smithfield, and one child's cry
Was not concealed from any trade route,
Or passer by,
Or upstairs island of thought withdrawn,
Or basement of submerged magnificence.
Welkened the evening sky,
Bark blasted the dark,
Like an assertion in a time of assent,
Or an increase to astonishment.
When a city undergoes disaster, it moves as a mass
Through three stages: through daze,
Then generous effort, then desperation and blame.
During all these stages, Mrs. P. T. Perkins
Lay buried under ten feet of debris, pinned down by beams.
At first she heard sirens, hoped somebody would get her out.
Later as the night wore away she surrendered her spirit,
Allowing it was all right that God take her away.
Finally what she protested to God and her rescuers was,
It was not proper that she lay there pinned under debris.
Whatever clime of affection we were raised in,
The weather changes at the polar cap,
And radio brings it southward, so we feel it
In conscience, if not at hand.
We a temperate country never called Abraham
To severe account
Nor drank our teacher dead.
Now these habits bear in upon us.
Is it possible that the currents of direction
Will move two ways? and to the fiery sands
And the cold voices of old climates
Will drift our indeterminate amends?
What is Italian? It is the language spoken
By a man from Italy.
Not all in words, in part in phrases,
Of brow, wrist, lightening
Of glance, glancing of touch,
More than the language can take in chance,
More than the man can take in language.
Breathing and sighing, some glides over him,
Sleek, sentential. Italian: that portion
Out of an English mystery which a detective
Sagged through, followed by a short subject
On Cornwall, we emerged into a looping storm
Which chuckled in the gutters unexpected.
A joke. Now what we need is a nonalcoholic
Detective with an umbrella. Did you hear?
Pacing down Elmwood direct you come
Alight with laughter, nearer and more near,
Balancing a Japanese paper parasol on your thumb.
I thought you were Fulbrighting in Burma, unthought of.
Ever across this screen, outside the dark marquee,
Pass and repass the characters I love.
Knowledge of you, knowledge of all the world
Moves me and moves my sleep
And is my rattle to my fretting hand,
Knowledge of you an age I cannot live.
I told her not to begin,
I said rest in peace,
I said mend your ways,
And when the jaybirds came to the suburbs, they came in
Knowledge of you, knowledge of business cycles,
Rent control and farmer legislation.
Told them to mend their ways,
Told them to rest in peace
And when the hundreds of jaybirds came, they came to the
Geological ground is tempered to the spade,
An agricultural age I cannot fathom.
I told her not to begin.
And real estate is ready for expansion.
But where's the night school course
Will count these credits up
To income tax and pre-professional Spanish?
Knowledge of all the world.
Your hundred courses.
In the train wreck my pieces of life
Were sidewise laid to track, river, and hill,
Crosswise and palpable
To canyon and cliff.
The damage was, many later could surmise,
Insured, probable, and full of reason,
But crosswise stalled in the grave my greatest passion
Was surprise, surprise.
Your unmorning look unmornings me
And takes me out into the tow of time.
Where's the footing, where's the shelf to be
If this your ebbing tune?
Isn't there some east to west event
For an orb to reflect even so early?
It's no sixth sense of immortality
Drifts with such a dreamy eye.
My gracious friend, whose arts are all refining
Into the arts of conscience, pity me.
I cannot bring a blame to such explaining
I cannot peel a problem to such planning
Of conscience sacred in its sympathy.
Where will your care remove you after luncheon?
To home and shadow of a curtain keeping
A stripe of dark over your silver sleeping,
A permanent color in adapted pattern
To say, I err; to tell you, pity me.
Many accidents of flesh
Happen to my own,
And the gross cause of accident
I would not believe
I could nurse so near
And not see it clear.
But so ever the mystery
Of disaster was made
By nymph in forest
And Olympian god.
And now ever accident
Breaks and is laid
At the long cathedral
Of the personal head.
After her pills the girl slept and counted
Pellet on pellet the regress of life.
Dead to the world, the world's count yet counted
Pellet on pill the antinomies of life.
Refused to turn, the way's back, she counted
Her several stones across the mire of life.
And stones away and sticks away she counted
To keep herself out of the county of life.
Lost tally. How the sheep return to home
Is the story she will retrieve
And the only story believe
Of one and one the sheep returning home
To take the shapes of life,
Coming and being counted.
He sat in an easy chair by the open window,
Leaning back with his legs crossed.
Someone sitting on the bed was intently speaking,
And he listened intently, answering softly.
The eastern hill of houses outside his window
Flung back the sunset light into his evening
And the smoky shadow gathered
From inside to out.
When the one who had spoken picked up her gloves and left him,
Patting his shoulder,
He came to the door of the room with her
And kissed her softly.
Then he went back to the dark sill of the window
And knelt there, head on his arms, sometimes
Softly lifting his head to look at the view, and then dropping it,
Beating it with his fists.
Hysteric sparks of self in the ward of night
Jangle their light to call their care's return.
In each nook and night, each flashing brain
Asserts itself 's I want.
Then what is the self of the long orderly
Who all the shift strides to the crying signs,
Strides to the f oglights and the needs' unneeds
To keep the blood in vein?
His is the fire of the open hearth
Tended and mended, till the stray sparks,
Blown almost away, he brings again
To its burning brand.
From the flood of tide to the shore edge how withdraws,
From the full consonance of waters at the brim how starves
and stands away,
How chafes and shallows upon scraping stones,
Now in the night the vessel of sea
Brims with the waters we taste in our life
Cool to the curve and the clear
And runs over.
Now in the day the shocked rubble of stone
Scrapes at the ebb, and the real
Bristles of barnacle shells clash in the draining
Down of belief
Out of brine.
And I cannot learn
How in the flood of tide the shells implicit
Grate in the sand, how the rocks
Rack in the stillest full the fact of the ebb
But in ebb
Drains down to loss the fiction of belief.
Then have mercy upon me.
Let one who has no care,
Sees not me there,
Likes not if he sees,
And would not, had he care,
Have mercy upon me.
He is my black mercury
Against the world's glass
To which all figures come and pass
Fair as they are in their own loving sight.
He is the black night
Which brings myself to the face of the glass.
In my indelibility
Have mercy upon me,
Quick neutral who does me forget,
Fast at the sheer glass of my life
To make my life myself.
I never learned, did I, who you were,
What faults you, named for, lived to,
What life encumbered you,
What world's cruelties were yours, — only
Your good outward and intent construction.
There's my world then, brave as you make it.
What defeats it suffers, it suffers in despite,
What harms it happens, happen like defeat
Not to your knowledge, but to one known beginning,
Your good outward and intent construction.
Most that I know but one
Make me better than I am,
Freer and more intent,
Glad and more indolent.
What shall I think of you
That makes me worsen?
Is it a hate I have,
And if so, what is hate
That makes me reprobate
Or do I learn your lack,
Not mine, and give it back
As mine, the empty lack as mine
That makes me worsen?
And if you do misread
Me in your own need,
Why do I care whose is
The botched lesson?
Because I think if one
Should bring to my mind disdain
So near destruction,
I think that I should be
Crying out, Help me!
The trouble with happiness, it strikes a fire
At the desert rock, flares in that camping place
Hot as an ember reckoned to a brand
And blaze-white in the sunlight of happiness, the trouble is.
That desert flat out to its crooked rim
Has its noontime as a mirror is.
And by this rock it lets this fire flicker
Warm to the hand, rose to the rock face flat.
Every shade surface turned to sun at the campsite
Reflects the fire in its somber face.
Starts, trouble is, the sunlight blazing,
The sunlight blazing in meridial shade.
I was sitting in what that afternoon I thought to be
The vacuum of my life,
Watching the bars of cloud darken over the housetops,
And calling to mind you, as if from far away,
As if by conjure to my lonesome wish,
When lounged in the after-school boy from down the street,
From his own vacuum, "What's new? "
Nothing. What's new with you?
"Well, I'll tell you — " Conjure as ever
Far from the cause summons its consequence.
My body is my night that sleeping lives
And in an arrogance of quietude,
Taking of nothing and not taking, gives
Lees of a lesson to be understood:
That day, in every coming singular,
Can come for neither certain help nor harm,
When the great glory patent in its star
Wakes and awakens but connot transform.
Unreasonable happiness troubles me.
I look at my round face
And I see, unreasonable happiness
Is my disgrace.
My world says be angry,
And my angry hand
Turns in its palm more happiness
Than it can understand.
In Plato's bed I lie.
The bed the carpenter
Made straitly as he lived
In life's utility.
Not so I use the bed,
But at a still remove
To sentence and to word
Paint it and paint it over,
As it were one I made
Not Plato's shady third.
In friendship feeling quiet
I spent a time asleep,
And when I woke, the marrow
Out of my bones ran out
That you were the friend I dreamt for
But not the dream I woke for.
And so I put this down for
Doubt. For doubt.
I set my heart out in the noontime sun,
Telling it to grow warm.
There is a space of warmth in the sky above, said my heart,
But not here.
I put my heart out by the blazing fire,
Begging it to grow warm.
There is a space of warmth on the ground below, said my heart,
But not here.
I gave my heart into your open hand,
Praying it to be warm.
There is a warm space in the world and about, said my heart,
Even as here.
I see you displaced, condensed, within my dream,
Yet here before me in your daily shape.
And think, can my dream touch you any way
Or move you as in it you otherwise moved?
I prosper in the dream, yet may it not
Touch you in any way or may you move.
It is the splendor of the possible
Not to appear in actual shape and form.
It is the splendor of the actual
So to be still and still be satisfied,
That any else or more becomes a dream,
Displaced, condensed, as by my dreamed regard.
To Make a Summer
Sandy says his high-school daughter
Keeps exclaiming joy, joy.
The burden of my joy lightens
With her exclamation.
It's a generality, it takes
From my heart the sting of the singular, it sets moving
In the easy early Berkeley air
What we incommunicably share.
In the car where we are
We take the highway where we are going
At speed of light past barrier of sound,
And as we poke the fire
The immediate telephone rings and rings.
Not being able to hear the caller's voice,
Flattened as we are against the seatback
And not being able to still the flicking fire
Wide at our hand against the spinning wheel.
We ask, Who is it, and the silence rings.
But note at the caution-crossing a small path
Of a byroad comes, as by a dial
To find and shake us, and we turn off
Sharp into the field of sound and fire
Where the bells are ringing as from bellflowers.
[i 4 o]
When the last Pullman of the day pulls into the Grand Canyon
And in the sunset light the passengers come
One after another over the platform, over the sward to the rim
Line up, look down,
The shadows loom
Fast into pools bluer than morning,
Abyss drawn by its river miles from home,
And they look into it as into an album,
Where every idiosyncrasy has room.
Brooklyn, Iowa, and West
I never lived behind a brick wall.
Next to brick, plaster
Seems like paper, a shoji screen
Insupportable in rough weather.
The character of brick, its autocracy,
Defines its protegees as it defends them,
Gives them a status beyond the reach of weather,
Gives them a weather beyond the reach of self.
When I came along the avenue, the rows of brick houses
Mustered to my bendable spirit, acceded
As if at six o'clock every evening I had come there
To the stations of construction rather than to the seasons of change.
Someone watched the corn in the field — I thought it was
The sky which breathed across the silk.
Or I thought it the crow, scared crow,
Which sloped up and observed.
But no, a more illimitable eye
Stood in the dappled shade of the screen door,
Broadly watching root, blade, and ear
Each in its individual aptitude.
When I came to the screen door my Aunt Jessie saw me,
But only as a fleck in the sight of corn.
She was watching and growing, she was transforming
The shade of the porch into the growing sun.
Grass plunged up to the two lane tires of cars
And to the doorstep's second step
And to the whirls
It made a field a park, a wood a glade,
A store a trianon,
A velvet double.
Grass played up around the gaspumps, woodpiles, swings,
Played the green world so green, I thought I was
A schooner in a bottle of green glass.
But it was grass.
A golden field has its red thresher,
Its blue sky overhead, its blue breeze.
At a great distance
Devotion moves in the field to the red machine,
Out of isolation and windy spaces, centers
To its life and wish, each one. Then a gang of threshers
Gets out on the road — you can hardly reckon
The individual master, or who serves.
Suddenly not plowed so deep, the seed is windborne,
Horses careen where cows would mull over,
Freights rattle in and out muffled
By the rocky walls and gullies, a windy crochet
The first west, as on the leaves of poplars
Dust greys and golds the deeper vein,
Dust whirls and lightens, and its thought carries
From ground to ground a surface
Like a guess.
To touch old snow
Frightens me, to feel
A flake settle,
Rest in my palm, and vanish
Yet rest in the rock, settle
In a tyranny of space,
So that each mountain
Commands a burden
Of ice so gross
Its features are singular in weight and stress,
Its outline as of character
Thoughtful and fateful.
When I take
Into my palm this flake
And think how long ago
It fell, and will fall,
Drifting to hand and brow,
I touch a glacial snow.
On the high upland plain, the boys yell in their cars,
They drive from east to west, still they are on
The high upland plain, they drive from Mac's to Barbecue,
Still they are on the high upland plain.
They yell through the small towns, finally they fall
Under the steering wheel and sleep, high
Over them drives the wheel of sky.
Still they are on the upland plain.
A river made up its mind at its source; nothing it met
Deeply troubled it; deflected, stalled, but not varied, it moved
Seriously down across the continent
In bountiful sunlight, freighting and purveying,
Faithful to its fountain, its following shores.
What could it believe when it came finally
Into fog, salt and deceptive, into dust
Dry and sandy, the logs, bars, nets,
Shells, mixed debris, mixed decisions
Of the ambiguous ocean?
Space keeps us, time forgives us.
Unpacks the heart of morning in the night,
Quiets the heart of summer in the snow,
Clutters and confuses the still bough
With a great welt and chaos of newworlds.
Puts between my question and your answer
The life of both, and holds them separate.
Once a girl lost her heart, it was time
That heard it beating out of its proper sphere.
Once a boy lost a job, time piled
Work up all around him,
And a voter lost a vote, time started printing
Ballots for the next election.
Once on a time lets be what still must be.
Possibility puts its foot down, urges its image
To say it is not space, to cease
In order to begin again.
Sometimes the desperate landlords of space
Set in to check it and reorder it,
Tighten each nut and bolt in infra red,
Tape time. But the wrong man often succeeds them.
The poetry of the moment has not time
But loses it into eternity.
The poetry of location has not time
Except what bears upon the present scene.
The poetry of time is necessary
To do wrongs and redeem them if it can.
Dear time, in the patient stillness of the world
You breathe a breath.
You are the wind upon the unruffled sea.
You are the Sunday of the heart, its sleep,
The Monday, its outrageous working day,
You give us to and give us from ourselves,
The January of the physical year
That lets us look both ways.
Led by Johns Hopkins on a trip through the heart
To the uttermost reaches of the body,
I was disappointed by X-ray and camera
At what was to be found there.
Mostly I missed the green pastures
Which I knew lay on either side of the path,
The running streams of tears in their salty waters,
Their crystal waters, and the steadfast sheep.
Sheep of my heart, where do you nibble,
At the pump of the ventricle, course of the artery,
That you do not look up into the camera
To tell on what you feed?
A radioactive fish is one charged
With more of the universe that he can bear,
And in this charge he is familiar.
Through depths of our galaxy, umbrageous swells,
Coral canyons, the fish
Flicker in their schools and perish.
And we in ours flicker and are consumed
Whether or not we eat
Their bread and bait.
By too much universe we taste our diet
One fish, one loaf, one life is bountiful.
[i 4 6]
A panther made of whole cloth set out through the suburbs of Los
Lapping his way as he went.
Set out to scream in a thicket of Elysian Park
But did not get there in time.
Somebody else gave out the scream for him.
Lonely he wandered, much of an island,
Behind busses, in refrigerators and matinees.
To Elysian Park his purposes,
But never got there, in every underbrush
Somebody set up such a wailing and crying.
At night then the big lights and bloodhounds came out for this
So people could sleep peacefully in their beds once more,
And found him napping, a perfect figment,
Just where the S line curves past the ironworks.
Somebody screamed to see.
God, a man at Yale, adopted a monkey
In order to raise him up in his own image,
But only in some respects could the monk identify,
Could learn manners, but not the word of God.
Ah, always it was so, meditated the monkey dazzled and befuddled,
Out of my tree I fell in the forest of Eden,
Or if I mannerly ate, it was the wrong apple,
Or if I climbed I died.
And this is all, I guess, a semantical series
Of my ascent and fall.
His tree is not my tree, His word, my word;
His Yale, my Yale.
As we rowed from our ships and set foot on the shore
In the still coves,
We met our images.
Our brazen images emerged from the mirrors of the wood
Like yelling shadows,
So we searched our souls,
And in that hell and pit of everyman
Placed the location of their ruddy shapes.
We must be cruel to ourselves.
Then through the underbrush we cut our hopes
Forest after forest to within
The inner hush where Mississippi flows
And were in ambush at the very source,
Scalped to the cortex. Yet bought them off.
It was an act of love to seek their salvation.
President Jackson asked,
What good man would prefer a forested country ranged with
To our extensive republic studded with cities
With all the improvements art can devise or industry execute?
Pastor Smiley inquired,
What good man would allow his sins or his neighbors'
To put on human dress and run in the wilds
To leap out on innocent occasions?
Miss Benedict proposed,
The partial era of enlightenment in which we live
Brings Dionysus to the mesa and the cottonwood grove,
And floats Apollo to the barrows of the civic group
To ratify entreaties and to harp on hope.
[i 4 8]
Professor Roy Harvey Pearce quoted,
These savages are outlandish Tartars and Cain's children,
Though someone reported once, "They do not withhold assent
From the truth set forth in a credible manner."
Is it possible?
Henry David Thoreau,
The most popular highbrow overseas reading-material
For our armed forces, because while they work and wait
They see before them in the green shade
His ruddy image, said, as his last word when he died, Indians.
Reading today this manual of wisdom,
In the still coves
We meet our images
And, in ambush at the very source,
Would buy them off. It is an act of love
To seek their salvation.
One party to the purchase
Receipts the purchase price and hands us back
His token of negotiation which redeems:
We cannibals must help these Christians.
When Sisyphus was pushing the stone up the mountain,
Always near the top,
As you remember, at the very tip of the height,
It lapsed and fell back upon him,
And he rolled to the bottom of the incline, exhausted.
Then he got up and pushed up the stone again,
First over the grassy rise, then the declivity of dead man's gulch,
Then the outcroppings halfway, at which he took breath,
Looking out over the rosy panorama of Helicon;
Then finally the top
Where the stone wobbled, trembled, and lapsed back upon him,
And he rolled again down the whole incline.
He said a man's reach must exceed his grasp,
Or what is Hades for?
He said, it's not the goal that matters, but the process
Of reaching it, the breathing joy
Of endeavor, and the labor along the way.
This belief damned him, and damned, what's harder,
The heavy stone.
One who has seen at her side flash by
The rough will of a slight scape girl,
At her wrist the hawk of soul tied to credit,
Is lifted up in a constellation.
One who has signed signatures of progress
And mustered judgments
For the sake of the motion forward, is taxied
Across a field, the sky pulling the motors.
Gives up to the agency of wings
Every further choice forward, and fastens
The belt of a fate welcome
When fate from its plane stepped down
And had its photo snapped for me in full color,
I did not know it, but it had
The hundred faces of some Christmas cards.
The severe faces of ftvz year old
Wilsons and Oppenheimers, and the Pandits, the round
Fortunes of immediate Presidents
Who will not read Pascal.
Also the crazy faces of leadership
That find their goodness in their morning cup.
To whom I said, Welcome ambassadors. And they,
Which of your hundred faces calls us home?
The gang wanted to give Oedipus Rex a going away present.
He had been a good hard-working father and king.
And besides it is the custom in this country
To give gifts on departure.
But we didn't know what to give Oedipus; he had everything.
Even in his loss, he had more than average.
So we gave him a travelling case, fitted, which we personally
Should have liked to receive.
Goliath stood up clear in the assumption of status,
Strong and unquestioning of himself and others,
Fully determined by the limits of his experience.
I have seen such a one among surgeons, sergeants,
Deans, and giants, the power implicit.
Then there was David, who made few assumptions,
Had little experience, but for more was ready,
Testing and trying this pebble or that pebble,
This giant or that giant.
He is not infrequent.
How could Goliath guess, with his many assumptions,
The force of the slung shot of the pure-hearted?
How could David fear, with his few hypotheses,
The power of status which is but two-footed?
So he shot, and shouted!
When the quanta jostle in the field of the body,
The body is lord of the field.
What will he tell his many feudal nobles,
How to subside?
He's a lonesome baron, the white rose and the red
Fighting his wars over his rib-cage,
Alert to siege or starvation or the charger
Run in the ditch.
And so he changes his ground, says he is a quantum
In the field of the universe; then all goes better.
Beggar or banker, he's a free soul under another lord,
An easy particle in the managerial revolution.
I will likewise pack up my troubles in a bundle
So compact they cannot war and wrangle,
And go out into the democratic vistas,
A mobile unit, to jibe or join.
So that of what will happen much will happen
In fief and out, and though I may not be there,
I will vote with the minor party, and condition
The entire domain.
From his small city Columbus
Set sail in the floodtide of sunlight.
The boxes of buildings
Basked in secular light.
The damp interiors
Of shops on the hill streets
Dried in the golden heat,
The stairways dry and bright.
The hills stepped down in ranks
To the spacious harbor,
The whole town afforded
The patient splendor
Of the widest sundry sunshine
Over rank and section
Over room and apartment
Over court and altar.
What had then to do Columbus
With a Spanish ocean
Seamews and curlews
In a brisk brine?
But that he envisioned at its far golden
Such a tiered city
High and dry?
It is said that certain orientational concepts of an ontological sort
Such as despair, sin, salvation, loneliness
Derive a certain richness from experience.
I noticed today at the Rose Bowl Parade
In the Romeo and Juliet float representing Wonder Bread,
How lonely Romeo shirtsleeved
In the frosty morning air looked, saluting
(i) the balcony made of thousands of blossoms of pink winter
And (2) the curbstone crowd.
This won the sweepstakes prize, yet Juliet
Smiled in despair in the frosty morning air,
Receiving her certain richness from experience.
What soul disinherits itself, goes riding
Over its wide acres
Saying not stick or stone of this is mine?
Rides on its wide highways
Yet claims not stopsign nor its steady curb?
Lifts into altitudes
With pacifiers to the slow drowse?
It is the royal soul, which well loves
Daughter, daughter, and daughter, and gives to them
Itself as gift, a gift and giver bare
To ease the burden of the capital.
But will interest pay
To such a pensioner
Without his sky?
All my sons and daughters rose like a flock of birds
And flew north into springtime.
Now I must
Take back my sundry riches to myself
And see the roadways skyways of my realm
As George Washington hacked at his cherry tree,
Joseph said to him
This is the tree that fed Mary
When she lingered by the way.
As George Washington polished his bright blade,
Joseph told him
This cherry tree
Bent down and nourished the mother and her babe.
As George Washington felled the cherry tree,
Voices of root and stem
Cried out to him
In heavenly accents, but he heard not what they had to say.
Rather, he was making
A clearing in the wilderness,
A subtle discrimination
Of church and state,
By which his little hatchet
Harvested a continental
Bumper crop for Mary
Of natural corn.
A young stranger came into town, looking for trouble —
Virus or seed, how could we tell quick enough?
We met immediately to map out our strategy,
And forcefully gathered in our grey beards toward the heart of
Antibodies, fighting the old fight again. Vigilant
We moved softly and effectively in upon the young stranger.
He never knew what hit him. But against him
We were not, and would never be, immune.
We are already on the moon,
We make such minerals in the vacuum
Furnace of the electric beam.
Their molecules together run
One every mile, in density
And pressure of the lunar cone.
In the new lab down on the waterfront
The tides of moon draw, fibres of the heart
Compress, constrict, till from this metal shape
Flows out a foil as thin and consequent
As moon on water and as moon on wing,
As moon on man the gold foil of his brain.
Is the face of the universe its familiar
Countenance of mountains of the world and moon,
Gallaceous nebulae and mild meadows
And the fence rails of these features we discern?
Its spirit behind these of mystery to us,
Loud in the whirlwind, soft in the breathing land,
Speaking a self beyond the dusts of summer,
A truth intemperate to the facts at hand?
Or is the face of the universe turned from us,
Its speech straight and simple in return?
Whichever, either, we must answer
That voice and face tell not the same concern.
And this hard answer, not from the universal
Voice, but from ours, our face, our voice, we learn.
Channels of happening as they run deep and deeper
Utter happening through tongue and hand,
So that our lives are a story, a film, a murmur,
A glaze of a berg of what we are.
So sadly I consider, to think how it happens
For the tradeless lives of avalanche
That their film is a crown and concealment, their story
A fit not fiction, their whisper counter.
Then it must break, against the press of happening,
Which has no hand to hold, tongue to tell it,
In its heart is hid and gets no language
Or in its hiding hurt, speaks out wordless.
I think of my friend for whom to speak of surface
Is now impossible lingo of desperation,
And think what icy impasse I could draw from
To haul this deep up to a gloss of sea.
The serpent was a risky incarnation
Which panned out badly for the human soul
Because its joy was jealous, and its ration
The couple was a daring incarnation
In the diversity of its several sin,
To seek self-knowledge, and in explanation
To argue with itself and then give in.
The martyr was a desperate incarnation
That drove its patient suffering to the wall
Bearing the tree and flesh, and in duration
Being the blasted brother of us all.
The child is an impatient incarnation
In whom aggression clamors without fear,
Self-knowledge murmurs, pathos in elation
Cries to its wide sympathos everywhere.
And now the bird is given its incarnation,
The spirit on its wing, the wing in flight,
The flight empyreal and of a station
Space-centered, space-patrolled, and out of sight.
While it wins back to heaven, and heaven incarnate
Spins on the sphere whose light we cannot see,
Our failed flesh labors in an earthly landscape
The preconceptions of its deity.
A light year is a cell year.
Nothing harries it on but its own speed,
Nothing halts it but its round roll.
It rushes through space as through a lifetime of incarceration.
Unconscionable to me is the speed of a light year
Which I cannot follow with my mind's eye
Or hear rushing and rattling with my heart's ear,
But stands still around me in the perpetual moment of the universe.
In the real year into which I was born,
Autumn succeeds summer and every flower
Lives hastily through the steps of its day
Filled with the clamor of seconds and happenings.
How can I fathom the millenial views
Of sky from cell walls which appertain
To eternity, when here at hand
Gardens of time happen, come into bloom, fade, happen again?
I saw a work so good,
Strong, delicate, and exact,
It breathed a cool wind
In a breathless day
And set the day in my heart
Like a bronze plaque.
I thought of its maker apt
In his youth to this work,
And I turned to his son to say
Thank you for him, thank him.
But did not, not to bring
To his face that shade.
I saw the sunny round
And restless warmth of the son
In his own energy rapt
To his own will, and learned
How after the father's work
We are Joseph's sons.
FEB- h '67 ML
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